-- 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.
To see a Colin Davis discography, covering Sir Colin's recording career CLICK HERE
(This Colin Davis discography should be regarded as 'work in progress'. Further updates will appear in due course.)See: http://lso.co.uk/sir-colin-davis-1927-2013
Eleventh Annual Berlioz Society Weekend
30th November & 1st December 2013
The ARTWORKERS' GUILD
6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT
BERLIOZ AND GERMANY
more details Application form
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.
Accolades for New Berlioz Recordings in "The Gramophone" magazine's June issue
Recording of the Month
Berlioz: Les nuits d' été; Roméo et Juliette - Love Scene; La mort de Cléopâtre
Karen Cargill (mezzo), Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Robin Ticciati
Linn Records CKD421
Choice of the Month
Berlioz: Grande Messe des Morts
Barry Banks (tenor), London Philharmonic Choir, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis
LSO Live LSO0729
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:-
Colin Davis discography
Contact the Membership Secretary at email@example.com
for this and all other enquiries.
Berlioz the genius
|Berlioz Society Officers|
|Chairman and Bulletin Editor: David Cairns CBE||Hon. Secretary: Simon Jones (including all membership matters)|
|Hon. Treasurer: Alastair Aberdare||Webmaster: Dave May|
|Media Relations: Christopher Follett||Society Weekends: Shelagh Marston, Helen Petchey|
|Member Liaison: Martin Price||Committee Members:- Brian Godfrey, Sir Adam Ridley, Linda Edmondson|
Last updated: 28th November 2013
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