Music Composers

Hector Berlioz-Part 11

A Brilliant Writer

Berlioz was also a brilliant and witty critic and feuilletoniste. He was for many years music critic of the Journal des Debats, and he left some entertaining writing in his Grotesques de le musique, Voyage musical and Soirees de lOrchestre; but he always held in abhorrence his duties as a critic. "I hate circumlocution, diplomacy, trimming and all half measures and concessions," he said. "Why can I not remember that the good, the beautiful, the true, the false, the ugly are not the same to everyone??" A hint to the adherents of "standardization" in music.

A constant reader of his articles once remarked to him: "You don't look a firebrand, but from your articles I should have expected quite a different sort of man, for, devil take me, you write with a dagger - not with a pen!"

Some anecdotes and bon mots:

An autograph collector stole Berlioz's hat. "It was such a shabby one," he said, "that I can't ascribe the theft to any other motive."

When Berlioz finished his l'Enfance du Christ, a kind of Christmas Carol, he invented a seventeenth century "Maitro du Chapelle" by name "Pierre Duche" and had the work performed as his. All Paris fell into the trap. Even Felis, who as an historian might have been expected to know better, led the chorus of praise. All the critics applauded the antique severity of the style, and some one went so far as to declare that Berlioz could never write a work like that. When the approbation was at its height, Berlioz acknowledged the authorship, to the consternation of his opponents.

The Etude Magazine September 1919





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