Hector Berlioz: Few Friends and Big, Big Orchestras

The point of this website is to present music of all types, across the board. Whether I like a particular artist or song is secondary. I’ve chosen most of the music at The Daily Music Break, and I like most of it. But not all.

That brings us to classical music. I was raised on rock and roll, though my mom always had WQXR (New York) on in the background. I don’t understand most of it. I am incapable of distinguishing between what is great and what is schlock, between who is Clapton and who is a second rate bar band copycat. So it’s not that I don’t like the classical music I’ve posted. A lot of it is very pretty. It’s that I am intimidated.

That, in turn, brings us to Hector Berlioz. I listened to the beginning of “The Roman Carnival Overture,” which is above, and said to myself “I like this. It’s pretty simple. I get it.”

Berlioz, the backgrounders say, was a Romantic composer in 19th century Paris. He wasn’t popular before he died because he also also was a critic and apparently didn’t mince words. This is how a site dedicated to Berlioz put it:

Although his career had its share of successes, his unorthodox compositional style and acerbic critical writing earned him plenty of enmity in the cutthroat world of French music.

Wikipedia says that Berlioz influenced and was championed by noted composers and his reputation rose after he died. By that point, he presumably had stopped writing nasty things. The post says that he at times orchestrated concerts for more than 1,000 instruments. Another Berlioz site offers a tremendous amount of information.

The “Roman Carnival Overture” was performed by The YouTube Symphony Orchestra — yes, it’s odd — in 2011. Below is the “Symphonie Fantastique, 5th Movement” played by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra with Pinchas Steinberg conducting.