Hector Louis Berlioz
Berlioz was born near Grenoble, France, December 11, 1803, and died in Paris, March 9, 1869. He was sent to Paris to study medicine, but his love of music caused him to throw up his medical studies, and with them went his allowance. He earned a bare living by singing in the chorus of the Gynmase Dramatique. His unusual genius, accompanied by his own eccentricities early brought him into conflict with authority.
He soon left Reicha at the Conservatoire to join the new “romantic” school of composers. His first composition, a Mass, was a decided failure, but two overtures, and his symphonie phantastique, “Episode de la vie d’un artiste”, showed great power. He now gave himself up to “program music” entirely.
In 1826 he re-entered the conservatory, and in 1830 gained the Grand Prix de Rome by his cantata, Sardanapale. After spending a year and a half in Rome and Naples he returned to Paris with his overture to King Lear and a continuation of his symphonie phantastique.
He now became a journalist and critic, and by his caustic, polemical writings became known throughout Europe, and gained the friendship of Liszt. A successful tour through Germany, in 1843, was followed by others through Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Russia and England.
His work is all distinguished by its brilliantly original and masterly orchestration. His famous Rakoczy March is perhaps the most familiar example.