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Hector Berlioz: Few Friends and Big, Big Orchestras

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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.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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