Berlioz – Symphonie fantastique


It was 1827 and composer Hector Berlioz visited a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The role of Ophelia, a noblewoman from Denmark, was played by the lovely Irish actress Harriet Smithson. Harriet was 29 at the time, and a little older than Berlioz. Berlioz totally fell for her, and did everything he could to get her. She didn’t reciprocate.

It was during that time of great emotional distress that he overdosed on opium and got a bad trip. This programmatic symphony is the result, the story of an artists drug-induced hallucinations, with a recurring theme at regular intervals. That theme he called the idée fixe, suggesting that it, like the literary counterpart, represented the object of his maddening infatuation.

It took six year and a small financial crisis on the part of Miss Smithson to get her to fall into his arms. It might have been her declining career, but let’s keep the romantics happy: yes, it was Berlioz’ never diminishing signs of love.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *