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Berlioz in Monaco

    Berlioz probably passed through or near Monaco for the first time on his way to and from Nice in April and May 1831, during his trip to Italy as a Prix de Rome laureate. At the time Nice and Monaco were part of the kingdom of Sardinia. Nice became part of France in 1860 and Monaco became an independent state in 1861. When he stayed again in Nice in September 1844 Berlioz may have visited Monaco during his excursions along the coast, though he does not mention this. At any rate by the time of his last visit to Russia in winter 1867-1868 he had developed a fondness for the place: in several letters at the time he expresses the wish to go and visit again not just Nice but also Monaco (CG nos. 3319, 3330, 3334). In the event, it was to Monaco that he went first. On his return to Paris he wrote to Vladimir Stasov on 1 March 1868: ‘I am leaving for Monaco. I will depart this evening at 7 o’clock. […] I will go and see again by beloved coastline of Nice, the rocks of Villefranche and the sunshine in Monaco’ (CG no. 3346).

    But the visit went tragically wrong: around 6 March Berlioz suffered a heavy fall in the rocks while going down to the sea at Monaco, and then another fall the next day in Nice where he also suffered a stroke (CG nos. 3347, 3348, 3354). He returned to Paris a week later.

    On this last visit Berlioz stayed at the Hôtel de Paris (CG no. 3354), which had been built in Monte Carlo a few years earlier.

Monaco and Berlioz 

    Monaco and its royal family have over the years shown their affection for Berlioz and his music. On 18 February 1893, and under the auspices of Prince Albert Ier, La Damnation de Faust was performed at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo, staged by Raoul Gunsbourg (1860-1955), who was director of the Théâtre de Monte Carlo from 1892 to 1951. He had been appointed by Prince Albert.

    A decade later, on the centenary of the birth of Berlioz in 1903, a monument to his memory was erected on a terrace overlooking the sea, again under the auspices of the Prince. A report on the ceremony was published soon after in Le Monde Illustré. At the inauguration ceremony Jules Massenet delivered the main speech, after which the Prince unveiled the monument. Berlioz’s family were represented at the ceremony by his niece Mme Chapot accompanied by her two sons, and their cousins M. and Mme Michal-Ladichère. In the evening there was a staged performance of La Damnation de Faust at the Theatre. In addition, a medal was issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Berlioz’s birth, with an embossed image of Berlioz on one side and that of the Prince on the other. 

    The performance of La Damnation de Faust was later reviewed in the journal Art Dramatique et Musical au XXe siècle, 3e année, Mars 1903, p. 99; the original French text is reproduced on a separate page together with an English translation.

    In 1969, a series of stamps were issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Berlioz’s death. The stamps depict various scenes from La Damnation de Faust.

See also the Archive of concerts for information on the concerts of Berlioz’s music in Monaco since 2003.

Monaco in pictures 

Unless otherwise specified, all the modern photos reproduced on this page were taken by Michel Austin in 2012; other pictures have been scanned from engravings, postcards and other publications in our own collection. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

1. General views 

A view of the road between Nice and Monaco

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A copy of this lithograph, by Léon Sabatier, is at the Bibliothèque de Cessole, Nice.

Monaco in 1834

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In 1834 Monaco was part of Piédmont.

Monaco harbour in the early 19th century

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Monaco in 1858

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The above engraving was published in the Illustrirte Zeitung, 13 November 1858, p. 308.

Monaco in 1858

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The above engraving was published in the Illustrirte Zeitung, 13 November 1858, p. 308.

Monaco in the late 19th century

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The Palace of the Prince is located in the back to the right.

Monte Carlo in the late 19th century
view taken from Saint-Martin

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The above picture is from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

The Gardens, Monte Carlo in the late 19th century

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The above picture is from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

Monte Carlo, view from the ‘Tête de Chien’ c. 1900

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Monte Carlo, view from Beausoleil in the early 20th century

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Monte Carlo in 1912

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Monte Carlo entrance to the Gardens in the early 20th century

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The Palace of the Prince in the early 20th century

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2. Hôtel de Paris 

The Hôtel de Paris was established in 1864 by Charles III of Monaco in the heart of Monte Carlo. It belongs to the Société des bains de mer de Monaco. The hotel is part of the same complex which houses the Casino.

Hôtel de Paris c. late 19th century

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Monte Carlo Casino c. 1900

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Hôtel de Paris in the early 20th century

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The above postcard shows one of the entrances of the hotel to the right of the semi-circular part of the building.

Hôtel de Paris in the early 20th century

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Hôtel de Paris and the Casino in 1906

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Monte Carlo Casino in 1923

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Hôtel de Paris in the mid 20th century

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3. The Berlioz monument

The Berlioz monument in 1903

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The Berlioz monument – stereoscopic photo c. 1903

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The Berlioz monument in the early 20th century

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The Berlioz monument in 2012

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English translation of the text: 
On 18 February 1893 the immortal work of Berlioz La Damnation de Faust received its first performance at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo under the auspices of His Royal Highness Prince Albert I of Monaco.

4. Théâtre de Monte Carlo (now Opéra de Monte Carlo)

Built by the French architect Charles Garnier, who also designed the Opéra in Paris, the Théâtre de Monte Carlo was inaugurated in January 1879.

Théâtre de Monte Carlo in 1890

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Interior of the Théâtre de Monte Carlo in 1890

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The above two pictures are from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

Interior of the Théâtre de Monte Carlo in the early 20th century

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We do not have the exact publication date of the above postcard in our collection.

Théâtre de Monte Carlo – La Damnation de Faust in 1893

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The above picture is from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

La Damnation de Faust in 1893
– The Programme

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This programme was published, along with a detailed article on Berlioz and La Damnation de Faust, in the illustrated supplement of the Écho de Paris, 21 February 1893, copies of which are in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Bibliothèque Municipale de Grenoble. The above picture is courtesy of the BMG.

Opéra de Monte Carlo in 2012

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See also on this site:

La Journée de Berlioz à Monaco (in French) 
Inauguration du Monument Berlioz à Monte-Carlo, discours par Jules Massenet (in French) 
La Damnation de Faust in Monaco

The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; Berlioz and Monaco page created on 1 September 2012, updated on 1 and 22 November 2012, enlarged on 15 January 2013.

©  Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

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