Hector Berlioz | Victor Seroff

Seroff’s written an excellent biography of a very important Romantic composer. It’s the perfect length to learn enough about his life to make you feel like you understand him—while not growing bored by the minutiae that clogs many biographies.

I’ve loved Symphonie fantastique for quite a while. It’s one of those orchestral pieces that simply cannot function as background music: the fifth movement in particular demands your attention. Seroff does an excellent job at explaining how the idée fixe in that symphony is really the idée fixe of Berlioz’s entire life.

Concise, interesting, and strangely moving: this is a biography worth scouring your second hand bookstore for!

2 Responses to Hector Berlioz | Victor Seroff

  1. Digital Aura March 27, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Yes, by far my favourite symphony… I remember studying this one in “Music Appreciation” in college. The opium motif is superb, and finding it in each movement still brings me great pleasure. I went out right after class and found the Berlin Philharmonic’s presentation of it on CD. I’ll have to dig it out again!

  2. Stephen Barkley March 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    It’s a good one. I love the marriage of the mass theme with the witches—twisted but brilliant.

    There are some great resources online for studying classical music now. You can quickly grab a .pdf of the whole score over at imslp.org (http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page).

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