The French romantic composer Hector Berlioz was one of the boldest innovators in the history of symphonic music. Undoubtedly, Symphonie Fantastique is his most famous work. The composer himself dubbed it “An Episode from the Life of an Artist”. The work was inspired by the composer’s passionate love for Irish actress Harriet Smithson. It is a music drama without words, composed in 1830. “The program of the symphony should be seen as an opera”, wrote Berlioz; the program of the plot is thought to have been influenced by Goethe’s Faust. Symphonie Fantastique tells the story of a man who has poisoned himself with opium in the depths of despair because of hopeless, unrequited love. Under the influence of drugs, he sees visions: he is condemned, led to the scaffold and is witnessing his own execution. This symphony also impresses with its amazing musical vocabulary. This is due to the composer’s attention to detail (melody, harmony, rhythm, structure of the phrases) and a special talent for expressing various moods and emotional content of the drama. Almost every measure, imbued with a living imagination of sound, displays an ingenious orchestral sonority. By repeating the theme of the idée fixe (the hero hunted by the image of a beloved) and developing the same dramatic idea in all five movements, Berlioz lent a special unity to the symphony.
Berlioz’s symphonic score is performed by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra. Renato Balsadonna, Italian baton master of operatic and choral music, graces the podium.
ORCHESTRA: LITHUANIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CONDUCTOR: RENATO BALSADONNA (Italy)