Hector Berlioz

Since sparking a furore throughout Europe with his "Symphonie fantastique" in 1830, Hector Berlioz (born on December 11th 1803 in La Côte St. André (Isère)) has ranked among the fathers of "program music”. This work then joined with Liszt’s "symphonic poems” to become a central type of 19th century symphonic writing – in competition with the traditional symphony. Thrilled with Goethe’s "Faust", which inspired him to compose the dramatic legend "La Damnation de Faust", and the theses and writings of the romantics, Berlioz derived much of his creative inspiration from literature. In this context, he set Lord Byron’s epic poem to music in "Harold en Italie" or used novels by Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper as the basis for concert overtures. After falling out of favor with fickle Paris audiences, Berlioz died, his triumphs having interested very few people outside of France, on March 8th 1869 artistically isolated and bereft of human companionship, in the French capital.