Music In Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

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Programmatic music has a long-standing history stretching back to the renaissance period of music. It wasn’t until the romantic period that it truly flourished and developed to be an influential form of music. The types of programmatic works include concert overtures, tone poems and programmatic symphonies. A programmatic work, simply put, is a piece of work that is narrative in nature. It uses musical ideas to represent concepts without having to use sung words. Prominent examples of a programmatic works include Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony - where it is a musical description of ascending and descending a mountain, Modest Mussorgky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – inspired by the paintings and watercolours of artist, Hartmann who was a close friend of Mussorgsky. The piece in focus would be Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. We will be focusing on his artistic influences from literature that influenced the story of his Symphonie Fantastique. When Hector Berlioz wrote his Symphonie Fantastique, or Fantasy Symphony, in 1830, he was greatly inspired by Shakespeare 's work, Hamlet but more specifically, he was swept away by the likes of Irish Actress, Harriet Smithson. Spurred by his strong feeling for her, Berlioz went on to compose a programmatic symphony that tells a story of an artist 's self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman. The symphony comprises of 5 movements: 1. Day-dreams – Passions 2. A Ball 3. In the Meadows 4. March to the Scaffold 5. Sabbath

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