Berlioz - Harold in Italy: Movement III

Revision cards for berlioz A2 Music set work

HideShow resource information


- First performed in 1834

- Solo viola and orchestra

- Commissioned by Nicolo Paganini. However, he never performed it as the solo viola part was not sufficiently difficult

- This is the third movement of a four-movement symphony

- Symphony is programmatic - depicts a poem by Lord Byron

- Features an ideé fixe - a technique already used by Berlioz in Symphony Fantastique (1830)

- Ideé fixe symbolises the character of Harold and appears in all movements

- It is first heard in bar 65 in the solo viola

1 of 9

Rhythm and metre

  • Movement opens with 6/8 saltarello dance rhythms:

- frequent dotted rhythms

- stresses on the second beat of the bar

  • Second section (bar 32) is a slower 6/8 with some bars appearing to be in 3/4

The ideé fixe stands out from the rest of the texture as it is in longer notes - dotted minims

Unusual simultaneous presentation of all rhythmic elements occurs at bar 166

Rhythmic augmentation is used near the end of the extract (bars 192-193)

2 of 9


Several distinct melodies:

1. Saltarello (bar 1)

- One-bar cells, resulting in phrases of various, irregular length

- Narrow range at first, later expanding to a 9th

- Revolves around E

- Mainly moves by step or by 3rds

- Involves repititon, sequence and inversion

- Modal elements hint at a folk influence. So do the ornaments

3 of 9

...Melody Continued

2. Serenade (bar 32)

- Opens with a broken-chord figure

- Phrase lengths are irregular

3. Ideé fixe(bar 65)

- Characteristic falling 3rd and 6th

- Broken chords

4 of 9


  • Functional, with cadences

Characteristic features include:

- Double pedal (drone) in saltarello to produce a folk-music effect

- Secondary 7ths (bar 74)

- Diminished 7ths (bar 41)

- Chromaticism (bar 44)

5 of 9


  • C major with only occasional modulation

- G major at bars 89-90

- D minor at bar 100

6 of 9


Broadly ternary form:

- Saltarello - Allegro assai (1-31) A

- Serenade - Allegretto (32-135) B

- Saltarello - Allegro assai (135-165) A

  • Coda, combining all melodic material - Allegretto (166-208)
7 of 9


- Broadly melody dominated homophony

- Divided orchestral violas

- Octave doubling in the woodwind section (piccolo and oboe from bar 4)

- Broken chord accompaniment in clarinet (bars 48-52)

- Double-stopping solo viola (from bar 72)

- Harp harmonics, doubling flute (bar 167)

- Monophonic writing for solo viola near the end (bar 202)

8 of 9


  • Viola solo and symphony orchestra

Transposing instruments:

- Cor anglais: sounding a perfect 5th below written pitch

- Horn in F: sounding a perfect 5th below written pitch

- Horn E: sounding a minor 6th below written pitch

  • Use of piccolo (sounding an octave higher than written) and harp - unusual for this period
9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »