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Symphonie Fantastique (arr. Foulds)

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Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz (arr. J.H. Foulds; trans. T. Conway Brown)


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Subtitle: Episode in the Life of an Artist (Movements No. II and No. IV)

This work bears the designation Opus 14
Boosey & Hawkes Q.M.B. Edition No. 72


General Info

Year: 1830 / 1937
Duration:
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Symphony
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $110.00


Movements

1. Un Bal
2. March to the Scaffold


Instrumentation

(Needed, please join the WRP if you can help.)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un artiste ... en cinq parties (Fantastical Symphony: An Episode in the Life of an Artist, in Five Parts), Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. The symphony tells the story of an artist gifted with a lively imagination who has poisoned himself with opium in the depths of despair because of hopeless love.

Berlioz wrote these program notes for the second movement, Un Bal:

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 town or in the countryside, the beloved image keeps haunting him and throws his spirit into confusion.

Berlioz wrote these program notes for the fourth movement, March to the Scaffold:

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. As he cries for forgiveness the effects of the narcotic set in. He wants to hide but he cannot, so he watches as an onlooker as he dies. The procession advances to the sound of a march that is sometimes sombre and wild, and sometimes brilliant and solemn, in which a dull sound of heavy footsteps follows without transition the loudest outbursts. At the end of the march, the first four bars of the idée fixe reappear like a final thought of love interrupted by the fatal blow when his head bounces down the steps.

Berlioz claimed to have written the fourth movement in a single night, reconstructing music from an unfinished project – the opera Les francs-juges. 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 drumsticks, and the other five with the right hand drumsticks". The movement proceeds as a march filled with blaring horns and rushing passages, and scurrying figures that later show up in the last movement. Before the musical depiction of his execution, there is a brief, nostalgic recollection of the idée fixe in a solo clarinet, as though representing the last conscious thought of the soon-to-be-executed man. Immediately following this is a single, short fortissimo G minor chord -- the fatal blow of the guillotine blade, followed by a series of pizzicato notes representing the rolling of the severed head into the basket. After his death, the final nine bars of the movement contain a victorious series of G major brass chords, along with rolls of the snare drums within the entire orchestra, seemingly intended to convey the cheering of the onlooking throng.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by This Composer


Resources

  • Berlioz, H.; Foulds, J. (1924). Symphonie Fantastique : Episode in the Life of an Artist : (Movements No. II and No. IV) : Op. 14 [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: London.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 61.
  • Symphonie Fantastique, Wikipedia