Music Composers

Hector Berlioz-Part 8

Berlioz' Critics

The daring innovator aroused also the wrath of the conservative musicians like Boieldieu (the author of the opera "La Dame Blanche") and Halevy (the composer of "La Juive"). In his third attempt to win the Prix de Rome Berlioz had composed a cantata, "Cleopatra" Boieldieu, who was one of the judges, said to Berlioz: "But, my dear boy, how could I possibly approve it? I who like nice, gentle music - cradle music, one might say."
"But , monsieur, could an Egyptian queen, passionate, remorseful and despairing, die in mortal anguish of body and soul to the sound of cradle music?"
"And then" - Boieldieu went on - "why do you introduce a totally new rhythm in your accompaniments?"
"I did not understand, monsieur, that we were not to try new modes if we were fortunate enough to find the right place for them."

Berlioz himself puts his case in the clearest possible way: "The value of my melodies, their distinction, novelty and charm, may, of course, be disputed. It is not for me to estimate them; but to deny their existence is unfair and absurd. The prevailing characteristics of my music are passionate expression, intense ardor, rhythmical animation and unexpected effects."

"Berlioz; music," says Heine in his Lutece, "has something primitive or primeval about it. It makes me think of vast mammoths or other extinct animals, or of fabulous empires filled with fabulous crimes, and other enormous impossibilities."

The Etude Magazine September 1919





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