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founded 1952

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The young Berlioz

The Berlioz Society is a Registered Charity
No. 1124443
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The aged Berlioz  

-- Who we are --

The Berlioz Society - a non-profit-making organisation of persons with an interest
in and a love of the music of the great French composer Hector Berlioz (1803 -1869) - is a
registered Charity. Chaired by David Cairns, author of the definitive two-volume life of Berlioz,
the Society has an international membership including Professor Hugh Macdonald, editor of the New Berlioz Edition.

-- What we do --

The Society's aim is to increase the public's awareness of the life and works of Berlioz,
this great composer, especially the lesser known works. To this end the Society organises
meetings, weekends, conferences and publications, and other events.
-- Members' Page --

Members of The Berlioz Society may access a page with information only available to members
by following the instructions in their copy of the Society's Bulletin.


--- About Berlioz ---

The author Victor Hugo, the painter Eugène Delacroix and the composer Hector Berlioz were the troika of the French Romantic
Movement of the 19th century. Heavily influenced by Gluck, Weber and Beethoven, Berlioz (1803-69) spearheaded the romantic
movement in music, writing some of the first programme music, introducing choirs, vocal soloists, the harp and the saxophone
 - the invention of his Belgian friend Adolphe Sax - permanently into the symphony orchestra, experimenting with "stereo"
and offstage acoustical effects, inventing the 'idée fixe' - a recurring short melodic strain signifying a person or
obsession - forerunner of Wagner's 'leitmotiv' - and creating the modern orchestra. A great conductor, orchestrator,
journalist, music critic and writer, Berlioz only played the guitar and the flute, the orchestra being his instrument. He
composed about 150 works, notably four symphonies, three operas, a requiem and two masses as well as song cycles, cantatas,
concert overtures, Hungary's national anthem and a rumbustious reworking of France's "Marseillaise". His best known work is
the autobiographical Symphonie fantastique (1830) - in which the 'idée fixe' - representing the composer's passion for the
Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson - plays a major role.

After years of being considered an eccentric outsider in classical music, Berlioz is now recognised as a true original and
one of the greatest innovators ever. Even his detractors have always had to concede his supremacy as an orchestrator, but
now, with all his large scale works available on recordings, his great melodic gifts and unique compositional imagination
are in the public arena for all to appreciate. In addition, his writings display the warmth and wit of his personality and
his immense critical intelligence, showing him to be one of the most engaging of the great composers.

The influence of Berlioz on later composers can hardly be exaggerated.  To cite but one example, in his "Portrait of Elgar",
second edition (1982) p. 218, Michael Kennedy says of the "Canto popolare" episode in the concert overture 'In the South - Alassio'
"This haunting melody, original and so Elgarian, but Italian in spirit, is given to the solo viola as a
salute to Berlioz from ‘Edward in Italy’."

"Which of these two powers, love or music, can elevate man to the sublimest heights?
Why separate them? They are the two wings of the soul."  Hector Berlioz 1803–1869
Nevertheless, he did have his critics:-
"He makes me really sad, because he is actually a cultured, agreeable man and yet he composes so incredibly badly."
Felix Mendelssohn in a letter to his family in 1831, after meeting Berlioz in Rome. However, he did recollect that he found Berlioz:-
" - - that quiet, friendly, thoughtful person, going his way calmly and confidently . . . deaf to any outside criticism
in his determination to follow only his inner inspiration."
More about Berlioz:-

Sir Colin Davis dies at age of 85

It is with great regret that we announce that Sir Colin Davis, President of the London Symphony Orchestra and Patron of
the Berlioz Society, famed as a leading interpreter of the works of  Berlioz, died on April 14 in London at the age of 85.

IN MEMORIAM Sir Colin - the special concert below was held at the Barbican on the 16 & 18 of June, at 7.30pm.


First half Second half
Strauss   Festmusik der Stadt WienBeethoven   Symphony No. 8
Berlioz   Overture Le corsaireBrahms   Nänie
Mozart   Violin Concerto No.3 in G majorElgar   Sospiri
Performed by LSO / London Symphony Chorus, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School Students,
conductors Patrick Harrild, Nikolaj Znaider, Gordan Nikolich & Joseph Wolfe.

Click to enlarge

See: http://lso.co.uk/sir-colin-davis-1927-2013


21st Festival Berlioz at La Cōte Saint-André (Rhône-Alpes, southeast France) : "Berlioz en Amérique" - August 21-31 2014. 

Highlights of festival:

	Aug 21 Grande Ouverture Festive: A restaging of Berlioz's 'concert monstre' at the Cirque Olympique on August 1 1844
	during the Festival de l'Industrie in Paris in which some 1,000 musicians and mass choirs performed works by Berlioz,
	Spontini, Gluck, Rossini, Weber, Beethoven & others. Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse, Orchestre des Pays de Savoie,
	Choeur Emelthée, conductor Nicolas Chauvin. The original concert in Paris was dubbed at the time "the greatest concert in history"
	by the French press.

	Aug 22:"Christophe Colomb ou la découverte du Nouveau Monde", 'ode-symphonie' by Félicien David, Orchestre des Siecles,
	Choeur de la Radio Flamande, conductor François-Xavier Roth.

	Aug 29: "East and...West Side Story", 'American' concert by Orchestre National de Lyon, conductor Leonard Slatkin.
	Orchestre National de Lyon also performs on Aug 23, under conductor Joana Carneiro in programme including Dvorak's
	Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World").

	Aug 30: Roméo et Juliette (excerpts); Mendelssohn's "Calm Sea & Prosperous Voyage" Overture; Schumann's Cello Concerto,
	London Symphony Orchestra, cello soloist Gautier Capuçon, conductor John Eliot Gardiner.

	Aug 31: La Damnation de Faust, Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, Choeurs et Solistes de Lyon - Bernard Tétu, Choeur Britten
	with Anna Caterina Antonacci singing role of Marguérite, Michael Spyres as Faust and Nicolas Courjal as Mephistopheles,
	conductor François-Xavier Roth.

FULL PROGRAMME ON LINE AT www.festivalberlioz.com


The 12th Annual Berlioz Society Weekend will be held on
29th and 30th November 2014
	6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT


more details


David Cairns awarded new Berlioz Society Medal

	To mark its 60th anniversary, the Berlioz Society has instituted a new medal to be awarded to musicians, musicologists, writers,
	critics and academics for exceptional achievement in promoting the music and writings of Hector Berlioz. 

	The first Berlioz Society Medals was awarded to David Cairns, musician, author and Chairman of the Berlioz Society.
	David Cairns’s medal was presented to him by Hon. Treasurer Alastair Aberdare at a ceremony in Bloomsbury on Saturday November 3rd.


New Berlioz Society Medal Awards 2013

At ceremonies at the Society Weekend in Bloomsbury on Nov 30-Dec 1, Chairman David Cairns awarded the newly instituted Berlioz Society Medal to Kurosh Davis (left) and Hugh Macdonald (right) for exceptional achievement in promoting the music of Hector Berlioz. Kurosh Davis received the medal on behalf of his late father, Sir Colin Davis, the former Society patron, who was awarded it in 2012 but had been unable to collect it due to illness; Hugh Macdonald, who has published numerous books on Berlioz, is general Editor of the 26 volumes of the New Berlioz Edition (Bärenreiter-Verlag). David Cairns, recipient of the Society medal in 2012, is wearing the order of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, presented to him at the French Embassy in London earlier in November.

New Members' Special offer - for a limited period!
Annual membership of the Society costs £20.00 and new members of the Society will receive a free copy of a 32-page illustrated
monograph by Dr Philip Mansel on Paris in the Age of Berlioz, published by the Society in November 2006.
If you wish to join the Society, or obtain more information, please contact us as below.
Colin Davis discography
Berlioz was the target of caricaturists - probably more than any other composer.  To see a selection of these, CLICK HERE
He has also inspired many portraits, including one by Haydn Greenaway, to view, CLICK HERE


  If you have any QUESTIONS about Berlioz, contact our Questions and Comments line. We'll try to find an answer to any question about Berlioz's life and works. If you have an INTERESTING ITEM about Berlioz, the man, his life, his music etc., contact our Questions and Comments line, and it may appear here, with an attribution  "our thanks to (your name) of (town) for this item."


J.M.W. Turner: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Italy (1832) - after Byron's poem of the same name
						 - which was also the inspiration for Berlioz's "Harold in Italy", for viola and orchestra.

Colin Davis discography
Contact the Membership Secretary at                      linda.edmondson@phonecoop.coop 

for this and all other enquiries.

Berlioz the genius 
Berlioz Society Officers
President and Bulletin Editor: David Cairns CBEHon. Secretary: Simon Jones
Chairman: Alastair AberdareMembership Secretary: Linda Edmondson
Vice-Chairman: Adam Ridley Weekend Coordinator : Helen Petchey
Hon. Treasurer: Martin PriceSummer Event Co-ordinator: Shelagh Marston
Media Relations: Christopher FollettWebmaster: Dave May
 Archivist: Brian Godfrey

Last updated:  20th April 2014
This website prepared and maintained by Ian Hickman Partners (Eur. Ing. D.I. H. May BSc.Hons, C.Eng, MIEE, MIEEE, and D. M. May B.A.Hons, A.C.I.L.) www.ianhickman.org.uk






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