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Symphonie Fantastique

Background
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Born: 1803
Died: 1869
Created: during personal and artistic experiences, implicating composing:
discovered Shakespeare performed in Paris by an English touring company
Fell in love / married actress Harriet Smithson
Heard Beethoven symphonies for first time when conducted by Habeneck at Paris
Conservatoire
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Orchestra
One of few composers not to play piano, free of influence of piano music in constructing sonorities
Influenced by virtuoso achievements of Paganini on violin and Liszt on piano ­ discovered new
possibilities for instruments
Orchestration ­ carefully selected each instrument and sound to achieve precise expressive effect

Large…

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Subtle rhythmic effect of having bass note of chord on fourth quaver of each group, avoiding obvious
placing of bass in stressed beat
Woodwind have full G major idée fixe in octaves ­ doubled by first and second violins on first quaver
of each group of quavers

Back to tonic…

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Bar 127, "dies irae" melody ­ intertextual ­ well known to Roman Catholic audience

Ophiecleide ­ much rougher sound than tuba, usually heard in modern performances
Bells different to modern tubular bells
Berlioz specified much deeper sound, but had to compromise by allowing grand pianos to be used if
real…

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