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Symphonie Fantastique

In: Film and Music

Submitted By katousignant1
Words 436
Pages 2
Katie Tousignant
ENG 215: 5XA
Gothic Art/Music
Symphonie Fantastique Hector Berlioz composed the Symphonie Fantastique in 1820. Between 1930 and 1855, he made quite a few changes to his original composition. In the 1845 version of Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz set out to depict a few important scenes in the life of an artist through the music. He split the symphony into five different parts: dreams, a ball, scene in a country-side, the march to the scaffold, and dream of a witches Sabbath. In the 1855 version, Berlioz put a little more thought into the artist’s life. The artist became a musician, one of “of morbid sensitivity and ardent imagination poisons himself with opium in a moment of despair caused by frustrated love.” (Austin) The musician takes a dose of narcotic and while it does not kill him, it puts him into a deep sleep, whereupon his thoughts and such become musical thoughts and images. The symphony itself seemed to have a great impact on the general audience. In Memoirs, Berlioz said “Three movements of the symphony, the Ball, the March to the scaffold and the Witches’ Sabbath caused a sensation. The March to the scaffold in particular took the audience by storm.” (Austin) Obviously, the audience of this era greatly enjoyed most of Symphonie Fantastique. The two parts they did not like prompted Berlioz to edit his symphony even more. The symphony itself had even greater impact, through it, Berlioz helped to “usher in the Romantic era that would characterize much of 19th-century artistic expression, including the writings of Lord Byron and Honoré de Balzac, and the paintings of Eugene Delacroix.” (Thomas) He also had a great influence on Romantic musicians such as Franz List and Frederic Chopin. The piece sounds like a transitional piece between the Gothic and Romantic eras. It has some of the darker melodies that are in minor key; however the piece also seems to have light, uplifting music that sounds more Romantic era. The music also does seem the follow the life of an artist as Berlioz intended. He used the right tones, keys, and dynamics to emphasize the difference between the scenes. The daydream seemed a bit darker than the ball which was more of a waltz and upbeat. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the piece and found it very interesting in what Berlioz intended the different scenes to be and how the scenes followed Berlioz’s plan.
Works Cited
Austin, Michael. “Berlioz Music Scores: Text and Manuscripts.” The Hector Berlioz Website. 2006. 21 Jan. 2007.

Thomas, Michael Tilson. “Symphonie Fantastique. National Public Radio. 1999. 21 Jan. 2007.

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