BALLYGOWAN FLUTE BAND
Hector Berlioz was born on 11 December 1803 near Grenoble in France. His father was a doctor and had a family of six, three of which sadly did not reach adulthood.
Unlike many of the great composers, he had not been a child prodigy, and had not shown much interest in music until he was twelve. He was not formally trained in his early years, and learned music from books; he played guitar and flute and flageolet but not piano.
He was once blown away at a performance of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, but in his own turn he was to make a massive contribution to the classical scene, influencing people like Wagner, Lizst, Mahler, Richard Strauss and Rimsky-
Initially he started to study medicine but had no interest in anything other than music. He regularly read through scores in the Conservatoire, and by twenty years of age, was a keen writer and composer. In spite of his father’s advice, he abandoned medical studies and studied music privately under Lesueur. In 1826 he started attending the Conservatoire. Here he won the Prix de Rome at his fourth attempt; this gave him much needed income, with a commitment to study in Rome – something he did not particularly enjoy.
He was to become a well respected and well travelled conductor although, strangely, he never held a permanent post. He was also a successful writer and critic -
His best known work was his Symphonie Fantastique which he finished in 1830 – believed by many to be the best first symphony of all time, it is apparently autobiographical. Franz Lizst later transcribed it for piano so more people could hear it. His opera “The Damnation of Daust” is today often performed, but at the time was a failure.
Generally, in his own country he found success and recognition hard to come by; indeed, in his life time, he received much more criticism than praise from French commentators. No doubt this caused him to say on his deathbed “At last, they are going to play my music”. He died on 08 March 1869.
The test piece, Roman Carnival, and is one of several of his works chosen as test pieces in past years – including Benvenuto Cellini, Le Corsaire and Les Francs Juges (the latter was a failed opera of which little other than the overture survives). He based Le Carnaval Romain on his opera Benvenuto Cellini, and it includes music from the carnival scene. Written as a stand-