Berlioz Hector 1804 - 1869 (65)

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.


Hector Berlioz was a French composer and music critic, representative of French romanticism. Born in a village near the city of Grenoble, at December 11, 1803, he was the first of six children. His father was a doctor, who might taught him music but he wanted him to become a doctor. Hector enrolled in medical school but he spent most of his time in the conservatory and in a music library. After 1 year he abandoned Medicine and enrolled at the Conservatory. He began to earn his leaving by giving flute and music theory lessons while he started writing music. In 1830 he won a music award in Rome for a cantata and wrote his first major work, the "Symphonie Fantastique". In 1831 he was in love with a 18 year old pianist, he departed for Rome having agreed that he would marry her on his return. He stayed for two years in Italy until he learned that the pianist had been married. He bought a gun and returned to Paris claiming that he would kill the couple. All he did was to get married with an actress with whom he had an affair some years ago. In 1834 they had a son. The marriage was from the beginning a disaster, she envied him and drank a lot; eventually she had a stroke and died in 1854. The same year he had a second marriage.

Berlioz worked hard, both as composer and as a musical critic for various magazines, but for many years he had financial problems and was indebted. In 1938 his situation changed when Paganini publicly expressed his admiration and sent him as a gift 20,000 francs; the same year he was given a paid position in the Conservatory library. From 1842 he toured all over Europe in which he conducted his works and was a great success, both musical and economical. His most famous works are: Trojans, Romeo and Juliet, Damnation of Faust, Beatrice and Benedict. In addition to his compositions, he left important writings on composition and orchestration. He died on March 8, 1869 in Paris following a stroke that left him about 3 months in a coma.