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Lecture 9

MUSIC 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Prix De Rome Cantatas (Berlioz), Conservatoire De Paris, July Revolution

Course Code
Dave Gerry

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The Performance
Berlioz rehearsed several movements at the Théâtre des
Nouveautés, but it was a asco due to insucient chairs and
music stands as well as other problems
He won the Prix de Rome (on his fourth attempt) for his cantata
La mort de Sardanapale
The Death of Sardanapalus
), written
during the July Revolution
He used the prize money to arrange the performance of the
Fantastic Symphony
and other works at the Paris Conservatory
Preparations (cont.)
The concert hall at the Conservatory could seat around a
thousand listeners and had excellent acoustics
Orchestra arranged on four tiers, with brass and percussion at
the very back
The Conservatory orchestra was made up of professionals and
was of outstanding quality
Expanded version of the Beethovenian orchestra
Additional instruments
Four bassoons
English horn (tenor oboe), playing the shepherd’s call in
dialogue with the oboe in the slow movement
Large brass section, with two piston trumpets, four French
horns, three trombones, and an ophicleide (low brass
instrument, invented in France in 1817)
Serpent (bass instrument related to the cornetto) used in
churches to accompany chant; in the
Fantastic Symphony
it plays the
Dies irae
chant in the fth movement to evoke
funeral music
E-9at clarinet, with its squeaky timbre, used to depict the
diabolical transformation of the theme
Violins use mutes when they play the “Estelle” melody
The Press and the Audience
Berlioz made use of the press to generate interest in the work
and announced that proceeds would benet those wounded in
the July Revolution
Invited King Louis-Philippe; he did not attend, but the royal
treasury gave Berlioz three hundred francs
Newspaper notices emphasized the novelty of programmatic
music; François-Joseph Fétis criticized this aspect of the work and
later became an opponent of Berlioz’s music
In response to Fétis’s criticism, Berlioz added an explanatory
footnote to the program in self-defense
Details of the Premiere
Concert began precisely at 2 P.M. on Sunday, December 5
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