Symphonie fantastique in 1830 when he was just 27 years old and only a handful of years after he dedicated himself to music composition. It was premiered later that same year at the Paris Conservatory.
French composer Hector Berlioz composed
Symphonie fantastique is in five sections: Reveries-Passions, A Ball, Scene in the Fields, March to the Scaffold, and Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath. In the span of about 50 minutes it tells the story of a young musician who meets a woman and instantly falls in love, then becomes obsessive and paranoid she might not care for him so he decides to poison himself with opium which causes a terrifying hallucination of her murder, and his own execution and funeral. Something light and fun for your summer evenings!
Symphonie fantastique. This caught her attention, they met, and married soon thereafter. Apparently, the ending of the symphony didn’t bother her...
Spoiler alert, the story is about Berlioz and his obsession with a famous Irish actress, Harriet Smithson. After a ton of letters to her went unanswered he composed
About the piece, American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein is quoted as saying “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip; you wind up screaming at your own funeral.”
Berlioz called for a very large orchestra. 2 flutes and piccolo, 2 oboes and English horn, 2 clarinets and E-flat clarinet, 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 ophicleides, 4 timpani, 4 harps, percussion, and a large string section of “at least” 30 violins, 10 violas, 11 cellos and 9 basses. Note: in most modern performances tubas are substituted for ophicleide, often only 2 harps are used, and the string instruments can vary in number.