The quintessential Romantic artist of his century, Hector Berlioz impressed Paganini and Liszt as “Beethoven’s only heir” and dazzled the young Wagner as a composer, orchestra conductor, and critic. To Paris and all Europe, Berlioz was known as much for his writings as for his music, yet there has been no English-language anthology of his criticism available until now.
Berlioz on Music plunges us into the Parisian music world during one of its most vibrant periods, the revolutionary years surrounding 1830, still resonant with memories of Napoleon and the French Revolution of only a few decades before. We follow Berlioz as he confronts the transition to a modern, commerce-driven society where music as high art has yet to find a place, using his pen to praise or scold, rouse or cajole performers, composers, managers, and the general public. The articles presented here-given in chronological order and, with a few exceptions, in their entirety-are accompanied by an introductory paragraph and notes that explain Berlioz’s references to persons, musical and literary works, historical events, and more. The result is an engaging collection of Berlioz’s lively prose, presented with scholarly rigor and rendered in accessible, graceful English. Scholars, lovers of Berlioz’s music, history enthusiasts, and Francophiles will delight in this compelling introduction to one of the richest periods of French culture.