- Early romantic period
- 5 movements instead of 4
- Daydreams - Passions
- A Ball
- Scene in the Country
- March to the Scaffold
- Dream of a Witches Sabbath
- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 bassoons
- 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas/ophicleides
- 2 pairs of timpani, cymbals, sus cymbal, tenor drum, bass drum, bells (C and G)
- 2 harps
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- The first movement is radical in its harmonic outline, building a fast arch back to the home key, which, while similar to the sonata form of classical composition
- Compared to Beethoven's epigrams
- The author imagines that a young vibrant musician, afflicted by the sickness of sprit which a famous writer has called the wave of passion, sees for the first time a woman who unites all the charms of the ideal person his imagination was dreaming of. This melodic image and model keep haunting him ceaselessly like a double idee fixe. This explains the constant recurrence in all the movements of the symphony.
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- The second movement has a mysterious sounding introductin that creates an atmosphere of impending excitement
- It is filled with running ascending and descending figures
- Only movement to use both harps
- The artist finds himself in the most diverse situations in life, in the tumult of a festive party, in the peaceful contemplation of the beautiful sights of nature, yet everywhere, whether in the town or in the countryside, the beloved image keeps haunting him and throws his spirt into confusion.
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- The two "shepherds" that Berlioz mentions in the notes are dipicted with the english horn and an offstage oboe tossing back and forth a characteristic melody.
- One evening in the countryside he hears two shepherds in the distance dialoguing with their 'ranz des vaches'; this pastorl duet, the setting, the gentle rustling of the trees in the wind, some causes of hope that he has recently conceived, all conspire to restore his heart an unaccustomed feeling of calm and to give to his thoughts a happier colouring. He broods on his loneliness, and hopes that soon he will no longer be on his own.... But what if she betrayed him!... This mingled hope and fear, these ideas of happiness, disturbed by the dark premonitions, form the subject of the adagio.
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- The movement begins with timpani sextuplets in thirds, for which he directs: "The first quaver of each half-bar is to be played with two drum sticks, and the other five with the right hand drum stick"
- A march filled with blaring horns and rushing passages.
- Convinced that his love is unappreciated, the artist poisons himself with opium. The dose of narcotic, while too weak to cause his death, plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by the strangest of visions. He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned, led to the scaffold and is witnessing his own execution.
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- He sees himself at a witches' sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque. the funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches.
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