Beethoven poet: Hector Berlioz's "A critical study of Beethoven's nine symphonies" at the crossroads of French Romanticism




Star, Allison

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In attempts to take a step towards illustrating Berlioz's musical aesthetic, my dissertation explores his "Critical Study" as his manifesto of the new poetic in music, which uses Beethoven's symphonies as models. First published in 1844, his "Critical Study" is a collection of individual essays on each of Beethoven's nine symphonies - the most widely known version of these essays originally published in the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris in 1837-8. This collection of essays derives from a reworking of Berlioz's earliest articles on Beethoven (1829-37), notably his reviews of a new concert series at the Societe des concerts du Conservatoire that premiered Beethoven's symphonies in Paris. Almost ten years in the making, Berlioz's "Critical Study" represents the pinnacle of his writings on Beethoven. Here he promotes Beethoven's "romantic" symphonies as models of "poetic" forms, within the context of emerging French literary Romanticism. I examined some of the key components in Beethoven's music that most occupy Berlioz as critic and, in turn, how Berlioz as composer develops these key components in his own contribution to the symphonic genre - his Romeo et Juliette (1839), composed at the peak of his Beethoven study. Ultimately, I hope to have demonstrated that the subtle mixture of the musical, the poetic, the critical pedagogical, and the cultural that intersect in Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette exemplifies the same aesthetic of the poetic that he promotes in Beethoven's symphonies.



Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827, Berlioz, Hector, 1803-1869, Romanticism -- France