• Composer of the Week:   Hector Berlioz 



    Hector Berlioz was a French composer who lived during the 19th century.   Born in Southeast France in 1803, he was raised with five siblings (three of whom did not survive to adulthood).   He was not a child prodigy, though displayed talent when he started studying music at age 12.  He studied flute and various string instruments, but his father would not support him taking piano lessons.   At age 18, he went to Paris to pursue a degree in medicine.  He hated it however, and eventually went to a music conservatory to learn to be a composer.  


    Berlioz was influenced by Beethoven, but also by German opera composers such as Gluck and Weber.  He was a very emotional and dramatic person, something that came through in his music.  He led the way in program music (music that tells a certain story) and seemed to constantly demand larger orchestras and choirs.  He was considered the best conductor of his time, and at one point led a symphony orchestra and choir with over 1,000 members.   His preference for additional instruments influenced other composers, and led to more brass and percussion being used in symphony orchestras. 

    Hector Berlioz wrote symphonies, operas and other choral pieces.  His best known works are Symphony Fantastique, Romeo and Juliet, Grand Symphony and his Requiem (for choir and orchestra). His pieces often tell a particular story.  Often, this story is a tragic love story (such as his version of Romeo and Juliet).  In fact, he was not just a composer, but an author as well.  Berlioz died in 1869, though the cause of his death is unclear.



    Map of Southeastern France

    Music History (Periods of Music)

    The Music of Hector Berlioz