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Music Encyclopedia

Louis Hector Berlioz ( 1803 - 1869 )

French composer, conductor and music author. Born in La Cote-St. Andre, near Grenoble.

Hector received just basic music training as a child. He had no outstanding teachers or influences as other great music icons to direct and guide him.
It was his ambition to express himself through the music medium and eventually taught himself enough to compose songs by the age of twelve.

As his father was a Doctor and it being the custom to follow in his fathers footsteps he studied medicine in Paris.
But when he was nineteen he turned his back on his father and the practice of becoming a doctor, and pursued his first love, Music.
He was able to convince Jean-Francois Lesueur to accept him as a pupil and eventually gained entrance into the Paris Conservatory.
Hector struggled in his development as a composer during these years, it was only his intense determination and drive that carried him through the process of becoming good at his craft.

When he was 37 he finally received a post on the Journal des debats which helped improve his financial situation.

During this time Berlioz wrote some of his finest works, in spite of the time constraints of this much needed job.

He became encouraged when he secured two commissions from the Ministry of Arts and his fortunes began to change as he began to reap the benefits of all those years of hard work and struggles.

In 1842 he decided to tour Germany, it was here Berlioz received enthusiastic audiences at his performances and made inroads as a composer and conductor.

But he longed for recognition in his homeland, especially Paris. One who came to his aid and promoted him was Franz Liszt who recognized his genius, but in spite of this Hector fell into depression, especially after the failure of his Opera Les Troyens in 1863.

After struggling for years and allowing the bitterness of this failure to contribute to his becoming ill.
He refused to compose any more music, but instead spent time in his later years writting his memoirs.

Some of Berlioz's works were: