-- 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."
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.
|Strauss Festmusik der Stadt Wien||Beethoven Symphony No. 8|
|Berlioz Overture Le corsaire||Brahms Nänie|
|Mozart Violin Concerto No.3 in G major||Elgar Sospiri|
| || |
Performed by LSO / London Symphony Chorus, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School Students,
conductors Patrick Harrild, Nikolaj Znaider, Gordan Nikolich & Joseph Wolfe.
The 12th Annual Berlioz Society Weekend will be held on
29th and 30th November 2014
at The ARTWORKERS' GUILD
6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT
when the subject will be
Berlioz: Master of the Orchestra, Evangelist of Instrumentation
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.
HOW TO JOIN THE BERLIOZ SOCIETY:-
Contact the Membership Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
for this and all other enquiries.
Berlioz the genius
|Berlioz Society Officers|
|President and Bulletin Editor: David Cairns CBE||Hon. Secretary: Simon Jones|
|Chairman: Alastair Aberdare||Membership Secretary: Linda Edmondson|
|Vice-Chairman: Adam Ridley ||Weekend Coordinator : Helen Petchey |
|Hon. Treasurer: Martin Price||Summer Event Co-ordinator: Shelagh Marston|
|Media Relations: Christopher Follett||Webmaster: Dave May|
| ||Archivist: Brian Godfrey |
Last updated: 28th September 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