Symphonie Fantastique in C major, Op. 14
(Fantastical Symphony)

The French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz was one of the most daring innovators in the history of symphonic music. Berlioz’s most famous work is undoubtedly his Symphonie Fantastique. The composer himself called it “Episode in the Life of an Artist”. The work was inspired by the composer’s passionate love for the Irish actress Harriet Smithson. It is a musical drama without words written in 1830. “The programme of the symphony must be considered as the spoken text of an opera”, wrote Berlioz; the programmatic nature of the plot is thought to have been influenced by the story of J.W. von Goethe’s Faust.

The Symphonie Fantastique is a story of a man who, in the depths of hopelessness and despair because of his unrequited love for a woman, has poisoned himself with opium. Under the influence of drugs, he sees visions of himself being condemned to death and watching his execution from the outside. This symphony is also fascinating for its remarkable musical vocabulary. This is due to the composer’s attention to detail (melody, harmony, rhythm, phrase structure) and his extraordinary talent for expressing the various moods and emotional content of the drama in a compelling way. Almost every measure, imbued with a lively aural imagination, has an inventive orchestral sound. By repeating the theme of the idée fixe (the image of the hero’s beloved) in all five movements of the symphony and developing the same dramatic idea, Berlioz has created a special unity of the symphony.

Berlioz’s programmatic symphonic score is performed by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the famous French conductor Cyril Diederich.

PUBLISHED:  2023-04-22