Thursday, 23 April 2009

263. Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique (1830)


Title: Symphonie Fantastique
Performers: Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Charles Munch
Year: 1954
Length: 46 minutes


Now this is something completely different from anything else on this list until now. It is a programmatic symphony, but there is nothing particularly new about that, Beethoven had done it before with the Pastoral, its originality lies in its psychological depictions.

This might be the first piece of truly psychedelic music, composed under the influence of opium, this symphony follows the changing mental states of an artist culminating in a nightmarish hallucination set at a witches Sabbath.

The music is extremely evoking throughout, caring much less about harmonious beauty than depicting altered mental states, but achieving both at the same time. A truly original piece of music which is a joy to listen to attentively throughout.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

Final Movement:


Antonio Jerez said...

not only does the Fantastique´s originality lie in "its psychological depictions". Just as original is the amazing orchestration Berlioz creates. It is hard to believe that it´s only a few years between Beethoven´s 9th and the Fantastique. Berlioz really seems to come from another planet. And I would say that to really "see" Berlioz orchestration in all its colorful glory you need period instruments. Try Marc Minkowski with the Musicien Du Louvre. Not only do they play very, very well but the sound quality from a live concert is fantastic.

Gaines said...

I've heard a lot of great stuff about this, specially in relation to the romantic movement in literature; those dramatic turns. Quite sublime.