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A number of friends and acquaintances of Berlioz originated from the city of Marseille; two of these, Hippolyte Lecourt and Auguste Morel were particularly close to him for a period of over 30 years, especially the latter. This page gives an alphabetical listing of these friends together with a documented outline of their known relations with Berlioz, and is illustrated with a selection of letters arranged in chronological order. It serves as a companion to the page on the relations of Berlioz with Marseille, and on a smaller scale is similar in purpose to the two pages Berlioz in London: friends and acquaintances and Berlioz and Russia: friends and acquaintances.
CG = Correspondance
Générale, 8 volumes (1972-2003)
CM = Critique Musicale, 6 volumes to date (1996-2008)
Reyer 1875 = Ernest Reyer, Notes de musique, deuxième édition (Paris, 1875)
Reyer 1909 = Ernest Reyer, Quarante ans de musique, publiés avec une préface et des notes par Émile Henriot (Paris, 1909)
Rostand = Alexis Rostand, La Musique à Marseille (Paris, 1874)
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Alizard, Adolphe (1814-1850; drawing). Alizard’s singing of the bass part in Berlioz’s cantata Le Cinq mai was one of the highlights of the two concerts Berlioz gave in Marseille in June 1845, and far surpassed the performances of the same work given the following month in two concerts in Lyon by a different singer (CG no. 977). Alizard had previously sung the work under Berlioz’s direction at a concert in Paris (13 December 1840), and his presence in 1845 at the Marseille opera probably encouraged Berlioz to accept the invitation to Marseille in the first instance.
Alizard won a first prize for singing at the Conservatoire in 1836 and joined the Opéra the following year. Almost from the start of his career Berlioz took note of the young singer and soon started to support him actively. He mentioned him for the first time in a feuilleton in the Journal des Débats in 1838 (25 April; CM III p. 453-4), in which he praised his talent as a singer but also mentioned a disadvantage that was to impede Alizard’s operatic career:
Alizard, that bass voice that is so focused, so natural and has such a fine sonority… […] Alizard is on the right path; if only he can acquire, I will not say flexibility, as his powerful voice possesses that, but a little agility in his general manner of delivery, he will without doubt soon earn himself a very creditable place among singers in the serious dramatic genre, despite his short stature.
Other supportive notices were to follow, for example the same year in the same journal (5 November; CM III p. 543):
Alizard is one of those hard-working young artists who have not yet received the recognition they deserve, but who sooner or later will achieve the place and rank they are entitled to.
Or again in the Débats in 1839 (10 May; CM IV p. 95; further examples in CM IV pp. 15, 17-18, 462-3, 473-4; V pp. 157-8):
In truth for a director of the Opéra not to provide to a talent such as that of Alizard the opportunity to shine, which would cost so little, is to show little concern for the interests of art as well as for his own self-interest. They say that Alizard is short in stature and that few roles would be suitable for him. In that case revive Œdipe à Colone [by Sacchini], which would only take a fortnight. The figure of this blind exile,
Worn out by grief, weighed down by old age,
dressed in royal rags, despite the requirements of a heroic stature that tradition confers on him, would give Alizard the opportunity to demonstrate all the beauty and power of his voice, all the breadth of his style and his sensitive ability to communicate.
Berlioz for his part lost no time in putting to good use the young singer’s talents: he invited him to perform in concerts he conducted in 1838 (25 November, cf. CG nos. 586, 587; 16 December, cf. CG no. 660). In particular he entrusted to him the important part of Friar Lawrence in the first performances of Roméo et Juliette in November and December 1839, in which Alizard excelled. This was noted by Jules Janin in his review, and commented on by Berlioz in his correspondence (CG nos. 671, 700). When in February 1843 Berlioz tried to perform the last movement of the work in Leipzig but failed because of the inadequacy of the singer, he could not but recall how well Alizard had sung the part (Memoirs, Travels to Germany I, fourth letter). At the time Alizard was singing for the Brussels opera where he stayed until 1844; he returned to France in 1845 and was singing for the Marseille opera at the time of Berlioz’s visit in June of that year. But Berlioz thought Paris was the only place worthy of Alizard’s talents, and on his return from Marseille used his influence to try to secure him a place there (CG no. 993, the only preserved letter of Berlioz to Alizard). At first he was unsuccessful, but eventually Alizard was readmitted to the Opéra, and Berlioz openly welcomed the event (Journal des Débats 7 October 1846; CM VI p. 235):
Alizard has been engaged again at the Opéra, and is due to return there not later than May. He will leave behind keen regrets in Marseille, and he must himself miss a public which knows so well how to appreciate the beauty of his talent. But the right place for such an artist is obviously Paris, and whatever the present condition of the Opéra, this is the only theatre where it was right for him to settle.
Berlioz continued to monitor Alizard’s career, even from abroad. Writing to Auguste Morel from Berlin in June 1847 Berlioz asked him to convey his regards to Alizard ‘who, it is reported, is scoring ever greater successes at the Opéra’ (CG no. 1114). But late in 1848 Alizard was taken ill; he retired to Marseille, and on 28 January 1850 (p. 3) the Journal des Débats carried the following announcement:
— In le Sémaphore of 24 January, a newspaper in Marseille, we read the following:
« The art of singing has just suffered a grievous loss in the person of Alizard, who died yesterday in Marseille as a result of a heart condition. Alizard was barely thirty-six years old; he was Banderali’s best student, and it is well-known what fine and deserved successes he scored at the Paris Opéra in the course of a career which was so brilliant and so short. The population of Marseille, which had been charmed so often by his fine talent, will share in the grief of musicians and of Alizard’s friends. »
There is no further reference to Alizard in Berlioz’s writings, except for two significant mentions of his special talent, in chapters 18 and 52 of the posthumous Memoirs; they first appeared in Le Monde Illustré as part of the Mémoires d’un musicien (1 January 1859, p. 10 and 23 July 1859, p. 59): Berlioz evidently was anxious to preserve for posterity the memory of this great artist.
Bennet, Toussaint (? – 1875) and his son Théodore Ritter (1841-1886; portrait). A wealthy ship-builder from Marseille (CG no. 2105) who was also an amateur musician and music-lover: he played the bassoon (CG no. 2152), and in October 1857 opened the Salle Beethoven in Paris (CG no. 2257). His natural son, known as Théodore Ritter, was a child prodigy gifted with exceptional musical talents, and Berlioz became extremely fond of him (Ritter himself was born not in Marseille but in Nantes). Bennet was known to Auguste Morel and is mentioned a number of times in Berlioz’s letters to him (e.g. CG nos. 1972, 1996, 2128, 2257), but it is not known whether it was through Morel (or, conceivably, Ernest Reyer) that Berlioz became acquainted with Bennet and Ritter. Their first meeting may in fact have been fortuitous: Bennet and his son happened to be at the première of l’Enfance du Christ on 10 December 1854, and wrote a letter of congratulations to Berlioz afterwards (CG no. 1831bis [in vol. VIII]). This is the first known letter in their correspondence and is formal in tone (Bennet addresses Berlioz as ‘Monsieur et illustre maître’). In his first known letter to Bennet a few weeks later Berlioz addresses him as ‘Mon cher Monsieur Bennet’ but he was already so impressed by the young Ritter that he entrusted to him without delay the task of making a piano reduction of the new score (CG no. 1879).
Thereafter the relationship became extremely friendly. Bennet and Ritter accompanied Berlioz to London in June 1855, so that Ritter could hear Berlioz conducting orchestral excerpts from Roméo et Juliette (CG nos. 1984, 1991, 1996), a work he subsequently transcribed for the piano (CG nos. 2059, 2237bis [vol. VIII]). In February 1856 father and son again accompanied Berlioz to Weimar (CG no. 2079), and Bennet acted as a link between him and the publisher Kistner in Leipzig (CG no. 2095). The following month he offered to help find a job for Louis, the son of Berlioz, on a merchant ship in Marseille (CG no. 2105), and in June was one of those who wrote to congratulate Berlioz on his election to the Institut (CG V p. 322 n. 1).
The letters Berlioz wrote to father and son, whether separately or together, during the years 1855 to 1857 were often very lively and jocular in tone (see for example CG nos. 2071 to Bennet, Ritter, and the members of a quartet, 2132 to Bennet and Ritter, 2152 to Madame Bennet, 2196 to Bennet). The young Théodore in particular evidently stimulated Berlioz’s wit as few of his other correspondents ever did (for example CG nos. 1991, 2059, 2080). His piano playing, and in particular his ability to render Berlioz’s orchestral music convincingly on the piano, filled him with delight (for example CG nos. 1887, 1937, 1984, 1996, 2077, 2237bis [vol. VIII]). Berlioz frequently mentioned Ritter in his feuilletons for the Journal des Débats, not just as a pianist but also as a composer, and always with high praise (26 January and 17 April 1855; 15 November 1856; 23 April and 20 July 1858; 18 February, 12 March, 19 May and 9 December 1859; 26 June 1860; 13 February and 7 April 1861; 16 February 1862). In April 1860, before Ritter went to London on a concert tour, Berlioz wrote a letter of recommendation for him to his friend James Davison (CG no. 2499).
The preserved correspondence of Berlioz with Bennet and Ritter slows down abruptly after 1857, and only a handful of letters is preserved thereafter (one to Ritter in 1861, CG no. 2587, and two to Bennet in 1864, CG nos. 2834, 2843). But the friendship endured, though contacts may have become rarer after this time; Bennet is last mentioned in a letter of early 1868, addressed to Ernest Reyer (CG no. 3332), who was a close friend of Bennet and also from Marseille. In several passages written by Reyer after the death of Berlioz he recalls the occasions when Ritter had captivated the composer with performances of his music on the piano, as in his speech in 1886 and an article of reminiscences published in English in 1893.
Lecourt, Hippolyte (1797-1868) was born in Marseille and spent most of his life there. A lawyer by profession (‘avocat maritime’, CG no. 2076), he specialised in maritime law and insurance, and had numerous contacts in the commercial world of Marseille. At the same time he was a very capable amateur musician: he took an active part in the musical life of his native city, wrote on musical subjects in the local press (CG nos. 632, 712), played the cello and double-bass (CG no. 666), and if not a regular conductor himself was thoroughly familiar with the practicalities of orchestral performance (CG nos. 666, 867, 1378). He was a very close friend of Auguste Morel, and Berlioz’s correspondence with both of them assumes from the start that they were almost inseparable; one letter of Berlioz is in fact addressed to both of them, first Morel then Lecourt (CG no. 1805).
It was probably Morel who first introduced Berlioz to Lecourt in 1837 or 1838 (cf. CG no. 604). They quickly became friends and remained so to the end of their lives, though Berlioz was never as close to Lecourt as he was to Morel, as is shown by the surviving correspondence of Berlioz with them, which is less abundant and more intermittent with Lecourt than it is with Morel (there is a long gap between 1856 and 1863). Lecourt developed an active interest in Berlioz’s music which was sustained over many years up to the last major works, Les Troyens (CG nos. 2257, 2755, 2929) and Béatrice et Bénédict (CG nos. 2705, 2708). On a number of occasions Berlioz sent him copies of his works (CG no. 1502: scores of the Symphonie fantastique, Harold en Italie, and Roméo et Juliette; the Soirées de l’orchestre; CG nos. 2705, 2708: the vocal score of Béatrice et Bénédict). Within the limits of the resources available locally Lecourt promoted Berlioz in Marseille, at least down to 1845. He helped to organise a performance of the King Lear overture early in 1840 (CG no. 712), and in December 1843 a performance of the Chant sacré which Berlioz had orchestrated in response to a commission from Marseille (CG no. 867). When Berlioz came to Marseille in 1845 he assisted in the preparation of Berlioz’s two concerts there and Berlioz acknowledged this with a graceful tribute in the account of his visit he published a few years later. In 1850 Berlioz dedicated to Lecourt the orchestral version of the chorus Sara la baigneuse (CG nos. 1357, 1376, 1378), and the young Théodore Ritter also dedicated to him in 1855 his piano arrangement of the slow movement of Roméo et Juliette (CG no. 1937).
On a number of occasions Lecourt did actually make the long journey to Paris to attend the first performance of several of Berlioz’s major works: the Symphonie funèbre in 1840 (this is presumably the occasion referred to the passage cited), and the Te Deum in 1855 (CG nos. 1959, 1961). He may also have attended L’Enfance du Christ in 1854 (Berlioz suggested he might come: CG no. 1805) and Les Troyens à Carthage in 1863: at any rate Berlioz suggested that Morel and Lecourt might want to come for the occasion (CG no. 2755), and friends did come from Marseille to attend the performances (CG no. 2815; no names are mentioned). A year later, on the anniversary of the event, Lecourt wrote to Berlioz to congratulate him (CG no. 2929).
One service of a quite different order that Lecourt and Morel performed together for Berlioz was in assisting Louis Berlioz, the son of the composer, with the early stages of his career in the merchant navy: thanks to their extensive contacts in the commercial circles of Marseille the two men were able to make a decisive contribution to launching the young man’s career in the years 1856 to 1858. This story is treated in detail in the entry on Auguste Morel on this page.
The last preserved letter of Berlioz to Lecourt dates from November 1864 (CG no. 2929), but this was by no means the end of their relationship: Lecourt is mentioned in the last extant letters to Morel after this time (CG nos. 3117, 3241, 3360), and the last of these shows that Lecourt had just written to Berlioz (May 1868), after his return from Russia. Berlioz promised to reply, but it is not known whether he did, and Lecourt died the same year.
Méry, Joseph (1789-1865; portrait), a writer and poet, born in Marseille, and described by Berlioz as ‘one of my friends, an artist and a man of wit and learning’. He was present in the audience at Berlioz’s first concert in Marseille on 19 June 1845, and Berlioz certainly saw him during his stay in the city: on the evening of 25 June Berlioz wrote a serenade to words by Méry in the latter’s album (see Julien Tiersot, Berlioziana 1 December 1906). It is not known whether they had met before that visit, though it is likely that Berlioz already knew of Méry’s works and his reputation as a wit, and he may have heard about him from Auguste Morel (Méry was friendly with Morel, whom he assisted at the start of his career in Paris). There is no extant correspondence between Berlioz and Méry, but the two will have met on numerous occasions in Paris (for example CG no. 1975). They were together in Baden-Baden in August 1858 when Méry, as well as indulging his fondness for gambling (CG no. 2307; Journal des Débats 24 November 1860), added some verses in honour of Berlioz to the prologue of a play of his (CG nos. 2308, 2315, 2318), and Berlioz invited him to dinner together with the composer Ernest Reyer (CG no. 2307bis [vol. VIII]). Reyer was another native from Marseille, and wrote an opera, Maître Wolfram, to a libretto by Méry, who also wrote another libretto for him, Érostrate (cf. Rostand pp. 75-83); the work repeatedly received favourable notices by Berlioz in his feuilletons of the Journal des Débats (10 June, 11 October and 25 November 1854; 26 January 1855; 24 October 1857; 3 September 1863).
Berlioz appreciated Méry’s polish as a writer; he gives warm praise to a libretto by him on an ancient subject, Herculanum, much more so than to the opera itself which was set to music by Félicien David (Journal des Débats, 12 March 1859). He particularly enjoyed Méry’s wit and cites several of his numerous bons mots in his writings (for example CG no. 1258; Journal des Débats 4 September 1856, reproduced in Grotesques de la musique; Memoirs, Travels to Germany II, fourth letter). He did not mind taking issue with Méry from time to time, as for example over Méry’s devotion to Rossini or his view of the music of Palestrina (CG nos. 1975, 2557; cf. Journal des Débats, 6 September 1854), and Méry no doubt took all this in good spirit.
Morel, Auguste (1809-1881; portrait), musician, composer and writer, born in Marseille, was one of the closest and most loyal friends of Berlioz over a period of thirty years. He can be described as an unsung hero, whose support helped to make the career of Berlioz possible. In his closeness to the composer he belongs to a very select group outside the family circles of Berlioz, which includes the names of Humbert Ferrand, Franz Liszt and princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. In his day he was a composer of some repute, notably in chamber music, though he found it difficult to establish himself in the capital city. As a close friend of Berlioz and a composer in his own right, Morel’s name surely deserves more than the almost complete oblivion in which he and his works seem to have fallen. One reason for his lack of posthumous fame lies in his own character: unlike Liszt, for example, he was quiet, unassuming and shunned publicity (CG nos. 1449, 1542, 1937, 2487); his outstanding qualities were seriousness, competence, kindness, loyalty to friends and complete personal integrity. Another reason was that Morel appears to have travelled little; most of his career appears to have been spent in either Marseille or Paris, and he did not look for opportunities to make himself known abroad, which most contemporary musicians of note took for granted (for example, apart from Berlioz himself, one may mention Mendelssohn, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, and many other lesser figures). One final contributory reason was his lack of descendants: he married late (CG nos. 1937, 2392) and had no children; at his death his estate passed to his nephew, of whom he was particularly fond (CG nos. 2138bis, 2505, 2580bis).
Correspondence. It is not possible in this article to do justice to all the detail in the letters exchanged between the two men or give more than an outline of their long friendship. Morel’s preserved correspondence with Berlioz comprises some 70 letters in all (only two of these are from Morel to Berlioz, CG nos. 2148bis and 3115). It thus comes next in importance, apart from the composer’s correspondence with his own family, to that with the three names mentioned above (Ferrand, Liszt, and princess Sayn-Wittgenstein), and Morel (unlike Ferrand) was a dependable correspondent. Characteristic of many of these letters is the wide range of subjects that Berlioz freely discussed with Morel: his day to day activities as well as his career plans, his thoughts, hopes and fears, but also personal matters and family problems. It can be assumed that Morel did the same with Berlioz. Characteristic too is the general seriousness of tone: Berlioz did not normally indulge with Morel in the kind of light-hearted banter that is found, for instance in the letters to Toussaint Bennet and Théodore Ritter. In a letter of 30 December 1842, early in his first trip to Germany, Berlioz asks for various services from Morel and adds ‘This is asking a lot, but friendship has superb rights and I make use of them, subject to reciprocation’ (CG no. 795). Their correspondence is full of such requests for mutual services. The trust between the two men was evidently complete, and though in later years their correspondence slowed down for a variety of reasons, the trust was never broken and the relationship between Berlioz and Morel (like that with Humbert Ferrand, but unlike that with Liszt and princess Sayn-Wittgenstein) endured to the end.
Beginnings. Morel was destined by his parents for a commercial career, but, as his pupil and biographer Alexis Rostand relates, he was first awoken to music by hearing string quartets. ‘Marseille is the first city in France to have understood Beethoven’s great works’, wrote Berlioz in 1848, using information he may have heard from Morel himself. ‘It was five years ahead of Paris in this respect; Beethoven’s last quartets were being played and admired in Marseille when we in Paris were still calling the sublime author of these extraordinary compositions a madman’. Morel decided to turn to music. Remarkably he was largely self-taught: when he came to Paris in 1836 he was already too old to be admitted to the Conservatoire, but nevertheless became an all-round musician. He played the viola and presumably the violin as well (CG no. 666), but also the piano, percussion (CG no. 1996) and was a capable conductor: he conducted, for example, a performance of Mendelssohn’s opera Antigone at the Odéon in May 1844, and Berlioz commented ‘M. Morel has put on this score in 18 days, and he conducts the performance with all the care and talent which he brings to all musical matters’ (Journal des Débats, 26 May 1844; CM V pp. 483-4). In Paris Morel turned at first to writing in musical and other journals, in which he received the assistance of Méry. It will not have been long before he met Berlioz, though their first attested contacts date from 1838. The friendship developed rapidly, as the two men had a great deal in common and moved in the same circles: both of them were practical musicians, composers, and writers active in musical criticism, and they shared similar musical tastes. They understood and could help each other.
Morel and Berlioz. Morel proudly claimed to have been one of the first to recognise Berlioz’s genius and to have supported him from the start: as early as 9 December 1838 he published a detailed review of Berlioz’s works in the Journal de Paris. The first known letter in their correspondence shows him working on a piano arrangement of music from Benvenuto Cellini which was soon published (CG nos. 573bis, 622), the first of several piano arrangements he was to do of works by Berlioz (Sara la baigneuse [CG no. 1376] and Le Cinq mai). The next preserved letter indicates that Morel had suggested to Berlioz, in financial difficulties, that he might turn to a friend of his in Marseille, Hippolyte Lecourt, to borrow money (CG no. 604). It was probably through Morel, whom Berlioz now saw frequently (CG no. 632) that Berlioz was introduced to a new circle of friends in Marseille, including Lecourt and de Rémuzat. It seems that Morel took part in the first performances of Roméo et Juliette in November and December 1839 (CG no. 666) where he may have played the little ‘antique cymbals’ in the Queen Mab scherzo (CG no. 1996). The next group of letters to have been preserved dates from the time of Berlioz’s first trip to Germany in 1842-3 and shows how much Berlioz was able to rely on Morel, as a trustworthy friend and correspondent in Paris during his long absence from the capital (CG nos. 795, 800, 815, 818, 824). Morel kept Berlioz informed of developments in Paris, while Berlioz, as well as giving detailed reports of his concert tour, could ask various services from Morel, and even tell him in confidence about his relations with Marie Recio. Morel actually disapproved of Marie Recio’s hold on Berlioz (see the unpublished letter of Morel to Lecourt cited by D. Cairns, Berlioz II , p. 233), but the claims of friendship came first. It is probably in recognition of Morel’s support during this first, critical trip to Germany that it was to Morel that Berlioz addressed the first of the series of open letters he published on his trip after his return (Journal des Débats 13 August 1843; CM V pp. 245-55), at the end of which he inserted a compliment on the songs that Morel had composed. In the version included later in the Memoirs Berlioz added a footnote to identify Morel: ‘M. Morel is one of my best friends, and one of the most outstanding musicians I know. His compositions have real merit. He is today Director of the Marseille Conservatoire’. Another mention of Morel in the Memoirs (ch. 53) relates to his participation as assistant conductor in the vast concert Berlioz gave on 1 August 1844 on the occasion of the Festival of Industry in Paris. The chapter received an advance publication in Le Monde Illustré on 13 February 1858, with mention of Morel’s name as it appears in the later Memoirs.
Surprisingly, and perhaps accidentally, there are no preserved letters to Morel dating from the time of Berlioz’s second trip to Germany in 1845-6: there was certainly no estrangement between them, and Morel in Paris may have assisted in the proof-reading of the bolero Zaïde which Berlioz composed during his stay in Vienna (CG nos. 1011, 1013). He reappears in his role of trusted correspondent in Paris while Berlioz is away on his travels during the trip to Russia and Germany in 1847; Morel was particularly useful to Berlioz through his own contacts in the Paris press, and helped to publicise his Russian successes (CG nos. 1101, 1105, 1114). The same happened again during the extended stay in London in 1847-8, for which a large number of letters have survived, which are again wide-ranging in their subject matter (CG nos. 1149, 1160, 1162, 1173, 1184, 1191, 1195, 1197, 1199).
In 1850 came an important turning point in the career of Morel, which was to affect Berlioz almost as much as it did Morel. In January Morel was still in Paris (CG no. 1292), but in the course of the year he decided, apparently for family reasons, to give up his established career there and return to Marseille (CG no. 1357). After some delay he was eventually appointed in 1852 director of the Conservatoire in Marseille, a remarkable achievement for a largely self-taught musician; he was to remain there for over twenty years till 1873. Berlioz supported his appointment (CG no. 1542), and their friendship continued as before (Morel, Lecourt, and de Rémuzat all made occasional trips to Paris). But Berlioz was inevitably sorry to lose the supportive presence of Morel in Paris which for many years he had taken for granted (cf. already CG no. 1162 in 1848), and he could not help expressing also his conviction that Morel’s real place should be in the capital (CG nos. 1376, 1399, 1496, 1542, 1805, 1937).
Throughout his career Morel showed a close interest in everything that Berlioz wrote and published, and was kept informed of the progress of all Berlioz’s major works from Benvenuto Cellini onwards: for example l’Enfance du Christ (CG no. 1805), the Te Deum (CG no. 1937, 1972), which unlike Lecourt and de Rémuzat he was unable to attend (CG nos. 1959, 1961), and Les Troyens (CG nos. 2128, 2257, 2266, 2294, cf. 2148bis). Berlioz regularly sent him copies of all his published work (CG nos. 1357, 1376, 1771, 1805, 3241), and Morel also acquired copies for the Marseille Conservatoire (CG no. 1784, cf. 1449). Berlioz even sent Morel his own portrait (CG no. 2184). He gave to Morel the autograph score of Harold en Italie, which Morel then bequeathed to his favourite pupil Alexis Rostand, who eventually donated it to the Paris Conservatoire. Among the letters of congratulation that Berlioz received on the occasion of his election to the Institut in June 1856 there is one from Morel (CG no. 2148bis).
Berlioz and Morel. Berlioz on his side gave constant and support to Morel as a composer (more so, it may be noted, than he gave to the music of Liszt). In the 1840s he frequently mentioned in his feuilletons for the Journal des Débats the songs of Morel, which were occasionally performed in Paris at the time (7 June 1840; 20 March 1842; 13 August 1843; 1 April and 17 May 1845; 29 November 1846; 24 January 1847; all reproduced in CM IV p. 345; V pp. 75, 255; VI. pp. 29, 86, 248, 272). In the 1850s he turned to other music by Morel. Early in 1851 he asked Morel for the music of an overture with a view to performance in Paris at a concert of the Société Philharmonique which he had founded the previous year (CG nos. 1376, 1377; in the event this turned out to be its last formal concert). He reported very favourably to Lecourt on the work after the rehearsals (CG no. 1399), procured tickets for the concert on 29 April for friends of Morel (CG no. 1401) and informed Morel afterwards of the success of the performance (CG no. 1411, cf. 1449). In practice the work had not been well received by the public and Lecourt apparently expressed disappointment about this (CG nos. 1496, 1502). Berlioz showed particular interest in Morel’s quartets, in which field he seems to have produced his best work, and this receives frequent mention in the correspondence with Morel; he assisted with the publication of one of the quartets (CG nos. 1449, 1542, 1768, 1771, 1784, 1937, 1996, 1972). In his feuilletons in the Journal des Débats Berlioz often took the opportunity to draw attention to Morel’s merits as a writer of chamber music (28 September 1849; 29 June 1850; 2 March and 4 July 1854). Then in 1856 Morel started composing an opera, Le Jugement de Dieu, at the same time as Berlioz was embarking on the composition of Les Troyens; letters to Morel enquire about the progress of the new work, as well as giving news of the composition of Les Troyens (CG nos. 2170, 2225, 2266). Berlioz hoped to attend the first performance (CG no. 2247), enquired about the progress of the rehearsals (CG nos. 2354, 2363), but in the end was prevented by illness from attending the first performance in Marseille (CG no. 2421). But he made up for this by writing an appreciative review in the Journal des Débats (28 March 1860) with the help of notes supplied by Lecourt (CG no. 2487). The opera was subsequently performed in Rouen as well, but hopes that it would reach the stage in Paris were not realised (CG no. 2858).
Louis. One of the most important services that Morel, together with his close friend Lecourt, was able to perform for Berlioz was of a personal kind: together they helped to launch the career of Berlioz’s son Louis at a time when Berlioz himself found it difficult to cope with the consequences of the young man’s unhappy family background. The first known mention of Louis in the correspondence with Morel, in 1850, implies that the latter already knew Louis well and was interested in his career (CG no. 1357), and a letter of 1851 shows that Louis by that time had become attached to Morel (CG no. 1399). It is likely that Morel and Louis had met at some time in the 1840s, while Morel was still based in Paris, and before Louis embarked on his career of travel in the navy. Louis’ decision to join the navy is first mentioned in October 1848 (CG no. 1227), and his intention became definite the following year (CG nos. 1266, 1279). In September 1850 he set sail from Le Havre for his first of many trips, in the Caribbean, and was accompanied to the port by his father (CG no. 1343).
This was the start of a new phase for both son and father, as Berlioz anxiously waited for news from Louis during his prolonged absences on the seas, and only his son’s safe return would put his mind at rest (CG nos. 1357, 1399, 1542). With the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 a new source of anxiety was added: the agony for Berlioz of knowing that his son was in harm’s way as France became involved in hostilities with Russia (CG nos. 1768, 1771, 1784, 1805; Memoirs ch. 57). Louis emerged from the war unscathed, but in November 1854 matters took an unexpected twist: for whatever reason, Louis missed the departure of his ship at Cherbourg (he was instead at Le Havre), and was disciplined by his mentor Admiral Cécille, which he took badly (CG nos. 1824, 1901). Apparently with the help of Morel, who informed Berlioz, Louis then made his way from Le Havre to Marseille where he embarked on another ship (CG no. 1853). A rift opened up between father and son (CG nos. 1891, 1892, 1899), neither the first nor the last, though it was eventually healed (CG no. 1933). Despite his experiences of the Crimean War Louis seemed to remain excited at the thought of a career in the imperial navy, which his father advised him to follow (CG nos. 1945, 1960). Then early in 1856 he changed his mind and decided to turn instead to commercial sailing, against the advice of his father, great-uncle Marmion and aunt Adèle, but with the support of Morel and Lecourt, who had extensive experience in the field and numerous contacts in the maritime circles of Marseille (CG nos. 2076, 2077, 2105, 2128). In previous years Louis had frequently seen them in Marseille in the intervals of his journeys abroad, but now they were in a position to find him places on suitable ships (CG no. 2257, 2266). Louis could feel that Morel and Lecourt were on his side; they suggested to Berlioz that he was at times unfair to his son (CG nos. 2148bis, 2158bis). All this helped to bring the group closer together. Berlioz was deeply grateful to Morel and Lecourt (CG nos. 2247, 2266), and so was Louis. As well as helping him at a critical stage in his career, Morel and Lecourt were able to provide Louis with a sympathetic family environment in Marseille that he had too often missed at home (CG nos. 2138bis, 2247, 2266, 2294, 2392, 2505, 2964). He could not help contrasting the stable family environment of Morel’s nephew and Lecourt’s son with his own unhappy experiences (CG no. 2580bis).
This is not the place to trace in detail the subsequent career of Louis, which continued to be a regular topic in the correspondence of Berlioz with Morel and Lecourt in the following years (CG nos. 2294, 2354, 2384, 2421, 2505, 2596, 2929, 3115, 3117, 3241). Gradually the correspondence between the two men slowed down, as both Morel and Berlioz noted (CG nos. 3115, 3117). Distance was not the primary cause – the departure of Morel for Marseille in 1850 had not led to a slowing down in their relations – rather, it resulted from Berlioz’s worsening illness, his reduced activities and his increasing disillusionment with his prospects in Paris (CG nos. 2888, 2929, 3117, 3241).
The unexpected death of Louis in Havana in June 1867 was a terrible blow for all concerned. It is not known how Morel and Lecourt were informed (letters announcing the news to other friends of Berlioz are extant). But Berlioz now found it difficult to communicate with his friends in Marseille; he almost certainly did not write to them during his stay in Russia in the winter of 1867-8. On his return he received a letter from Lecourt, which mentioned another letter of Morel which had missed him in Nice the previous March: they had not forgotten him. The letter Berlioz wrote to Morel in May 1868 explaining his reasons for not stopping in Marseille was probably the last one in their correspondence (CG no. 3360). It may also be noted that although a few close friends of Berlioz were mentioned in his will, the name of Morel did not appear among them.
Epilogue. Morel suffered two grievous losses in quick succession, the death of his close friend Lecourt in 1868, and the death of Berlioz in March 1869. He continued in his position as director of the Conservatoire and might have ended his career in Marseille, but for another unexpected twist of fortune. In 1872 the town council of Marseille decided to downgrade the Conservatoire to the status of a local school (‘école communale de musique’), much to the indignation of Morel’s pupil Alexis Rostand [Rostand 1874, 93-125], and the following year Morel was removed from his position as director, a position which had in any case been devalued. Late in his life Morel was thus forced to rebuild his career, and he decided to leave his native Marseille after more than 20 years there and return to Paris.
When exactly the move took place is not clear, but it was probably not later than 1875. Early in 1876 Morel was writing reviews for the weekly journal Le Ménestrel in Paris, and on 21 October 1877 his name appears for the first time on the list of regular contributors to the paper, where it stayed till his death. In addition to the personal respect he inspired in those who knew him well, he enjoyed particular status as an old friend of Berlioz who had been closely associated with the composer. A review of Daniel Bernard’s Correspondance inédite de Berlioz which appeared in Le Ménestrel on 5 January 1879 (pp. 44-46) included this thoughtful comment: ‘Quite a few of these letters, let it be noted by the way, are addressed to our colleague M. Auguste Morel, one of Berlioz’s oldest friends, who supported the master during the most difficult times of his strenuous career, and now has the joy of witnessing his triumph’. A number of signed articles by Morel appeared in the journal, the last only a few weeks before his death (Le Ménestrel, 4 March 1877; 1 and 22 December 1878; 12 January and 16 March 1879; 28 November 1880; 13 February 1881), and in addition he regularly reviewed concerts in Paris. Loyal to the end of his career, Morel had the satisfaction of witnessing the posthumous rehabilitation of Berlioz in France and being able to contribute between 1876 and 1881 a number of articles in his honour, several of which are reproduced on this site in the original French.
Morel’s death came unexpectedly in the night of 22-23 April 1881, and it was reported the next day in Le Ménestrel. The journal paid handsome tribute to its contributor in several obituary notices and articles, two of which were due to his friend and pupil Alexis Rostand, who had himself recently joined the staff of Le Ménestrel. These are all reproduced in the original French on a separate page on this site, together with related excerpts from a book by Rostand on music in Marseille.
Rémuzat, Justinien de (1803 – ?). Little is known of Rémuzat (Berlioz regularly spells his name Rémusat), and there are no extant letters of Berlioz to him, but he is frequently mentioned in the correspondence of Berlioz with Lecourt and Morel over a period of nearly thirty years, from 1839 to 1867. He was evidently a close friend of both Morel and Lecourt, and Berlioz was probably introduced to him by Morel not long after the start of their friendship. Like Lecourt and Morel, he was from Marseille and appears to have been established there, as implied by several letters (CG nos. 666, 1959, 1996, 2494, 2929). Several other letters mention him at various times as being in Paris, at least temporarily (CG nos. 2257, 2354, 2549, 2596, 3241), and one actually shows he had a flat there at the time (CG no. 2505). It is not known what his profession was, but he appears in the references to him as a dedicated music-lover (he played the violin and even composed music, CG no. 2505), and like Morel and Lecourt he consistently supported Berlioz: in 1855, together with Lecourt, he made the trip from Marseille to Paris to hear the first performance of the Te Deum (CG no. 1959). Years later, in 1883, he was a member of a local sub-committee in Marseille set up to build a monument in Paris in honour of Berlioz (Le Ménestrel, 11 March 1883, p. 120).
Rémuzat should be distinguished from his near namesake Charles de Rémusat, who was Minister of the Interior in 1840 and commissioned the Symphonie funèbre et triomphale. Berlioz tells the story at length in his Memoirs (chapter 50), and presents Rémusat as a dedicated supporter of musicians, an impression Rémusat himself was anxious to dispel in his own Memoirs (translated from the quotation in CG II p. 650 n. 1):
Berlioz was a man of imagination whom some friends called a genius. He has told in his posthumous Memoirs the whole story of this funeral march to which he attached such importance, and has embellished his account with a few tit-bits in my honour, though we did not have any relations with each other. As he believed he had grudges against the Ministers of the Interior and their offices he took pleasure in singing my praises, and if Berlioz’s Memoirs get through to posterity I will leave the quite unwarranted memory of the minister who was most dedicated to music and who treated musicians best.
This passage makes it clear that the former Minister of the Interior cannot be identical with the friend of Lecourt and Morel referred to in Berlioz’s correspondence.
Reyer, Ernest (1823-1909; portraits), a writer and composer, born in Marseille (his real name was Rey). Unlike Morel and Lecourt, his origins in Marseille had no particular influence on his subsequent relations with Berlioz, and most of his career was spent in Paris. He was taught at the Marseille Conservatoire and initially aimed at a career in administration before he turned to music in 1848 and settled in Paris. Among other figures from Marseille he knew Toussaint Bennet personally as well as the writer Méry, who supplied the libretto for two of his operas. He may also have known Berlioz’s closest friends from Marseille, Morel and Lecourt, though their names do not appear in Berlioz’s preserved correspondence with Reyer, and likewise his own name is not found in Berlioz’s correspondence with Morel and Lecourt. It is therefore unlikely that he belonged to this particular circle of Berlioz’s Marseille friends. There is no evidence that Reyer and Morel knew each other personally until 1877, by which time Morel was back in Paris; Morel mentions Reyer in an article in Le Ménéstrel in March 1879 and elsewhere, and Reyer refers several times to Morel in his feuilletons of the Journal des Débats (13 March 1877; 15 December 1878; 22 March 1879; 30 January 1881; 14 April 1889).
Berlioz on Reyer. According to Reyer himself his acquaintance with Berlioz dated from some time before the first performance of l’Enfance du Christ in December 1854, which he attended: Berlioz sent him tickets for this concert, as emerges from the first mention of Reyer’s name in Berlioz’s correspondence (CG no. 1816). But Berlioz had already heard of Reyer several years earlier. The first work to bring Reyer to the attention of a wider public was his symphony le Selam on a text by his friend Théophile Gautier; it was first performed in Paris in April 1850 and favourably mentioned by Berlioz in a feuilleton in the Journal des Débats (13 April 1850, p. 2): ‘I will praise M. Reyer for showing restraint in his use of violent instruments, violent harmonies and violent modulations; his orchestral writing is gentle, dreamy, soothing and simple’. But Berlioz went on to hint slyly that the oriental colouring of the work was a concession to current fashion: ‘I will give much higher praise to Félicien David for having had the good sense of coming first in writing Le Désert, for had he come second, he would surely have been accused of having imitated le Selam’. The next mention of Reyer is in a feuilleton of 2 March 1854 in which Berlioz announces the forthcoming production of an opera by Reyer, whom he describes as ‘the witty author of the oriental symphony Selam and of a host of vocal pieces full of originality and verve’. The opera Berlioz announced was Maître Wolfram, to a libretto by Méry; it received its first performance later in 1854 and was reviewed at length by Berlioz (10 June 1854) whose verdict was generally positive: ‘What M. Reyer lacks is practice in writing, know-how, technical ease and a Prix de Rome from the Institut; but his melodies are natural, often moving, and there is heart and imagination in the work’. Berlioz subsequently referred to the work several times, always positively (11 October and 25 November 1854; 26 January 1855; 24 October 1857; 3 September 1863). Other works of Reyer were similarly noticed favourably by Berlioz in the Journal des Débats, with only occasional reservations: the ballet Sacountala (15 September 1858; 19 May 1859), a collection of old French songs with piano accompaniment (5 May 1860), and the opera La Statue (24 April 1861; 16 February 1862; 8 October 1863).
Personal relations. The preserved correspondence between the two men stretches from 1856 to 1868, but it involves only a small number of letters and does not give a full picture of their relations: as both were living in Paris much of the time they will have met frequently and there was therefore little need for written correspondence. There are only two preserved letters of Reyer to Berlioz, of June 1865 and July 1866 (CG nos. 3017 and 3148). Some of the extant letters of Berlioz to Reyer are brief and uninformative (CG nos. 2081bis, 2236quarter [both in vol. VIII], 3365, the last preserved letter). A few relate to social occasions (an invitation to a reading of the poem of Les Troyens in October 1858, CG no. 2322bis [vol. VIII]; an invitation to dinner around 1863, SD 113 [vol. VIII p. 613]). In September 1858 while in Baden-Baden Berlioz invited both Reyer and Méry to dinner (CG no. 2307quater [vol. VIII]). The only two more extensive letters sent by Berlioz to Reyer relate to reports on concerts he was giving abroad, from Vienna in December 1866 (CG no. 3200), and from Russia in early 1868, in response to a letter of Reyer a few weeks earlier (CG no. 3332). This last letter prompted Reyer to insert a few lines about Berlioz’s Russian trip in the Journal des Débats (6 February), where he had taken over the musical feuilletons after the death of Joseph d’Ortigue in 1866, who had himself succeeded Berlioz after he resigned in 1863.
Though Berlioz appreciated and respected Reyer as both a composer and friend, Reyer probably did not belong to Berlioz’s most intimate circle of friends. An indication of this is that it was only at the very end, when Berlioz was dying, that he received a copy of the as yet unpublished Memoirs, as Reyer himself related (see the obituary of 1869 and the biographical reminiscences of 1893), whereas others received theirs earlier (Estelle Fornier, Berthold Damcke, Stephen Heller, the Grand-Duchess of Russia, among others). One point which divided them was their different attitude to the music of Wagner; it is perhaps no accident that in his earlier articles on Berlioz, after his death, Reyer avoided mentioning the name of Wagner, and it was only later, in the 1890s, that he felt free to discuss openly this rather sensitive subject (Berlioz’s relations with Wagner are examined elsewhere on this site). Reyer’s views on Wagner evolved in time as he became more familiar with his music (in 1864 he could not make sense of Tristan und Isolde but openly changed his mind 20 years later – Reyer 1909, pp. 76-87), but though he never was an uncritical admirer of the German composer, he did take him seriously from the start, defended Tannhaüser at the time of the Paris performances of 1861, and in one of his last feuilletons in 1896, the last one to touch on Berlioz, he welcomed a concert which associated the music of both composers: ‘On the same poster, the names of the two greatest composers of this century, now united in the same glory… and perhaps reconciled’ (Journal des Débats, 12 April 1896). It is noteworthy that when Reyer took over the festival in Baden-Baden in 1865, as well as including music by Berlioz he also performed works by Liszt, Wagner and Schumann, which Berlioz had conspicuously avoided year after year from 1856 to 1861 (CG nos. 3025, 3032). When in 1866 Reyer was appointed as successor to d’Ortigue for the feuilletons of the Journal des Débats, Berlioz’s reaction was non-committal (CG no. 3185). But in the last sentence of his will dated 29 July 1867 Berlioz bequeathed ‘to my friend M. Reyer, the editor of the musical feuilleton in the Journal des Débats, and a composer who will soon be famous, my copy of Paul et Virginie [by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre] with my marginal annotations’. Reyer was at Berlioz’s bedside at the time of his death, and was profoundly influenced by the experience, as he recalled in the obituary he published soon after, and again in his personal reminiscences more than twenty years later (1893). In an article in the Journal des Débats (21 January 1876) he described the copy of Paul et Virginie which he cherished, and commented on the marginal annotations that Berlioz had made (reproduced in Reyer 1909, pp. 190-5).
Reyer on Berlioz. According to Reyer (1893) it was the hearing of l’Enfance du Christ in December 1854 that first made him take note of Berlioz as a composer and begin to study his works. In 1857 he asked Berlioz for copies of all his works for an article which appeared in the journal L’Artiste on 6 December (cf. CG no. 2259), his first detailed article on Berlioz, which aimed at defending the composer against attacks by ill-intentioned critics such as Pierre Scudo, who is cited though not actually named. This was just the first in a long series of articles which Reyer was to devote to Berlioz subsequently, but most of these were written after 1869: no other writer in France championed Berlioz so consistently and for so long after his death. He contributed to the Journal des Débats of 31 March 1869 a very personal obituary notice. Within a year of the death of the composer he organised a Festival in honour of Berlioz (8 March 1870), on which he reported at length in the Journal des Débats (31 March 1870, reproduced in Reyer 1875, 292-304). In October 1886 he delivered a speech at Square Vintimille on the occasion of the inauguration of a statue of Berlioz, and the following year (March 1887) was present at the inauguration of a funeral monument for Berlioz at Montmartre Cemetery. In 1889 he contributed a chapter on Berlioz to the volume published to commemorate the centenary of the Journal des Débats to which Berlioz himself had contributed from 1834 to 1863. In 1890 he delivered a speech at Berlioz’s birthplace La Côte-Saint-André when a statue in his honour was inaugurated. An article in a journal published in the United States in 1893 reproduces more personal reminiscences of the composer (it must have been based on a French original which we have not been able to trace). As late as 1903, when Reyer himself was now 80 years old, he gave a speech at the inauguration of Berlioz’s statue in Grenoble in his capacity as honorary president of the celebrations; the speech was subsequently published in the Livre d’or du centenaire.
A number of his articles on Berlioz were reproduced by Reyer himself (Reyer 1875, pp. 264-76, 292-357), and posthumously by his friend Émile Henriot (Reyer 1909, pp. 155-95). A full listing of all his articles in the Courrier de Paris between 1857 and 1859 and in the Journal des Débats from 1866 to 1899 can be found in Reyer 1909, pp. 403-20. The table below lists all his articles on Berlioz in the Journal des Débats, the majority of which are now reproduced on this site in the original French, for the first time since their publication in the late 19th century.
|1867||16 February||Les décors des Troyens, de Berlioz|
|1868||6 February||Berlioz en Russie|
|28 December||Roméo et Juliette, de Berlioz|
|1869||10 March||Mort d’Hector Berlioz|
|31 March||Hector Berlioz||Reyer 1875, 264-76|
|23 November||Faust, de Berlioz|
|1870||22 February||Festival pour l’anniversaire de la mort de Berlioz|
|31 March||Festival en l’honneur de Berlioz, à l’Opéra||Reyer 1875, 292-304|
|1871||15 March, 16 March, 4 June, 5 June||Mémoires d’H. Berlioz||Reyer 1875, 305-57|
|29 July||Une lettre d’H. Berlioz|
|1873||9 March||Symphonie fantastique, de Berlioz. — Le Carnaval romain, de Berlioz|
|28 October||Roméo et Juliette, de Berlioz|
|13 December||Roméo, de Berlioz|
|1874||15 March||La Marche troyenne, de Berlioz|
|1875||15 January||La Damnation de Faust — L’Enfance du Christ|
|29 July||Roméo, de Berlioz|
|21 November||Roméo et Juliette, de Berlioz|
|12 December||Roméo et Juliette, de Berlioz, au Châtelet|
|1876||21 January||Harold en Italie, de Berlioz|
|1 March||Deux premières parties de la Damnation de Faust. — Lettre de Berlioz à Deldevez|
|25 November||Un exemplaire de Paul et Virginie, annoté par Berlioz||Reyer 1909, 190-5|
|1877||13 March||La Damnation de Faust, de Berlioz||Reyer 1909, 155-66|
|30 March||Exécution de la Damnation de Faust au Châtelet|
|23 May||Hector Berlioz|
|19 December||Damnation de Faust|
|1878||30 March||Requiem de Berlioz|
|12 November||Symphonie fantastique et Harold en Italie, de Berlioz|
|15 December||Correspondance inédite de Berlioz, 1819-1868, par Daniel Bernard|
|1879||16 February||Roméo et Juliette, de Berlioz|
|22 March||Festival Berlioz à l’Hippodrome|
|11 August||Transcription de la Damnation de Faust, par M. Pfeiffer|
|17 October||Prochaine exécution de la Prise de Troie|
|30 November||Premier acte de la Prise de Troie|
|12 December||La Prise de Troie, de Berlioz||Reyer 1909, 167-83|
|26 December||Exécution de la Prise de Troie, au Châtelet|
|1881||30 January||L’Enfance du Christ, de Berlioz. — La statue de Berlioz|
|13 December||Lélio ou le retour à la vie, de Berlioz. — Lettres intimes de Berlioz. — Hector Berlioz, par Ad. Jullien|
|1882||26 November||L’ouverture des Francs-Juges, de Berlioz. — Béatrix et Bénédict, de Berlioz|
|1883||29 January||La Messe des morts, de Berlioz|
|28 October||La Damnation de Faust et le monument de Berlioz|
|1884||16 May||Le monument de Berlioz|
|14 September||Une étude sur Berlioz et son œuvre, par M. Ernst|
|28 September||La partition d’orchestre des Troyens. — Reprises projetées de Benvenuto Cellini et de Namouna|
|1885||18 January||La Damnation de Faust, de Berlioz, aux Concerts Lamoureux|
|15 November||La partition d’orchestre des Troyens. — Benvenuto Cellini en Allemagne|
|1886||26 September||A propos de Benvenuto Cellini|
|31 October||Concert à la mémoire d’Hector Berlioz, au Châtelet|
|14 November||Les Troyens, à l’Opéra|
|1887||9 October||Le Benvenuto Cellini, de Berlioz|
|1888||22 April||La Damnation de Faust, au Châtelet|
|3 September||Berlioz et M. Eugène Diaz|
|4 November||Hector Berlioz, sa vie et ses œuvres, par M. Ad. Jullien|
|1889||3 February||Hector Berlioz, par Adolphe Jullien|
|14 April||Berlioz intime, d’Ed. Hippeau|
|1890||8 June||Béatrix et Bénédict, de Berlioz||Reyer 1909, 184-9|
|1892||12 June||Les Troyens, de Berlioz, à l’Opéra-Comique|
|11 December||L’Enfance du Christ|
|1894||8 December||Le cycle Berlioz aux Concerts Colonne : Roméo et Juliette|
|1895||25 May||La Damnation de Faust, à l’Opéra|
|1896||12 April||Berlioz et Wagner|
Selected letters of Berlioz and others
A number of letters concerning Berlioz and Marseille are reproduced in the page Marseille and referred to on this page where appropriate. All the known letters of Berlioz to Hippolyte Lecourt and Auguste Morel (and theirs to him) are listed below under each year and some of them are reproduced in part (there are also two undated letters to Morel belonging to the 1840s, see CG VIII pp. 603-4).
See nos. 573bis [vol. VIII], 604 (both to Auguste Morel)
To Liszt (CG no. 660; 6 August, from Paris; reproduced in CM IV pp. 134-7):
[…] Alizard, a young singer who has risen during your absence, is earning for himself day by day a finer place in the opinion of connoisseurs and even in that of the public; from time to time he sings some quite short roles in which he always manages to impress his audience. He received immense applause this winter in the concerts of the Conservatoire; he will succeed. […]
To his sister Nanci (CG no. 671; 21 October, from Paris):
[…] I rehearsed several times Friar Lawrence and the part of this good monk is perfectly suited to the deep and smooth voice of Alizard. […]
See also CG nos. 632, 666 (both to Hippolyte Lecourt)
To Humbert Ferrand (CG no. 700; 31 January, from Paris)
[…] Alizard scored a genuine success in his role of the good monk (Friar Lawrence, who has kept his name). He understood wonderfully and conveyed the beauty of this Shakespearian figure. […]
See also CG no. 712 (to Hippolyte Lecourt)
See CG no. 795 (to Auguste Morel)
See CG nos. 800, 815, 818, 824 (to Auguste Morel), and 867 (to Hippolyte Lecourt)
See CG nos. 881bis [vol. VIII], 900 (both to Auguste Morel)
To Adolphe Alizard (CG no. 993; 29 August, from Paris):
[…] All our efforts are in vain: stupidity triumphs everywhere! At the Théâtre Italien they have engaged Dérivis! At the Opéra I am on bad terms with the administration, but I sent there Perrot who is still very friendly to me, but up till now the only answer he has received is this: « Mme Stoltz was very displeased with Alizard! ». The answer was passed on by Gentil. I have not heard anything from Perrot. […]
Be assured that I will not miss any opportunity; I have already talked about you in my letter of the 20th of this month on Bonn, and also on the subject of Staudigl and the Opéra, and by clamouring for you in this way I might in the long run have some effect. […]
Your devoted artist and friend
P.S. Marie shakes your hand and regrets as much as I do to see you kept away from your proper place.
See CG nos. 1059, 1073 (both to Auguste Morel)
See CG nos. 1101, 1105, 1114, 1149 (all to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1162; 14 January, from London):
[…] Something I regret keenly in my absences from Paris, which are become more and more frequent, is that I do not see you, and I hope that you do not doubt this. You know how much I appreciate the straight judgment, the kindness of spirit and the love of art of which you have given me so many proofs. So forgive me if I state my beliefs on the subject of France with such frankness. […]
See also CG nos. 1160, 1173, 1184, 1191, 1195, 1197, 1199 (all to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1357; 15 November, from Paris):
[…] Tell Lecourt that his Ballad of Sara scored a very great success at the two concerts which have just taken place. All the same the critics hold it against me that I have written a choral work of this kind on such words; according to them I should only have used a single voice. I confess that I was not expecting such a reprimand. As soon as the proofs of the full score are properly corrected Lecourt and yourself will receive your copies. Our choristers now know this piece by heart and sing it wonderfully, though still a little too loud. I felt keenly your absence the day before yesterday, and missed you particularly during the Adagio [of the Symphonie fantastique]. I was looking for your friendly glance in every corner of the orchestra; it would have done me so much good. Our musicians are overjoyed at having emerged with credit from such a difficult task, all the more so as the choristers had gained a decided advantage over them at the first concert. When they have gained a little more self-assurance I must ask them to perform your wonderful quartet, even if we have to rehearse it till blood comes out of our fingers. […]
I cannot conceive that you might be absent from Paris for a long time still, which self-evidently is where you should be. If only you were offered the post of director of the Conservatoire in Marseille, with a decent salary and two or three months’ leave every year… But you don’t say a word about this… […]
Farewell my dear and excellent friend, always write to me whenever you can, or answer me if I write first; the long distance between us should not interrupt relations which we both need. I shake Lecourt’s hand.
Marie thanks you for your good wishes. Please give my regards to that excellent artist I met in Marseille, M. Pascal, who if I am not mistaken was your teacher in a way. […]
I still cannot have any news of my poor Louis. He must have arrived in Haiti over a week ago, where he will have found a letter from me. The steamer from Southampton arrives on the 15th and should bring me his reply. Despite the firm resolve and near enthusiasm with which he has embarked on his sailing career, you can imagine my anxiety until his letter reaches me. I will inform you immediately.
See also CG no. 1292 (to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1376; ca. 31 January, from Paris):
I thank you for your letter and the good news it contains. So in spite of your great musical worth you will be at the head of a school of music where you will be able to do much good. It is a miracle…
I am writing to you these few lines just to ask you to send me as soon as possible the score and parts of your overture; we will very probably perform it in our March concert. These gentlemen readily agreed with the points I put to them on this subject. […]
Farewell; together with the copy of the full score of Sara for Lecourt I am sending you a copy of your excellent piano reduction of this piece. […]
To Hippolyte Lecourt (CG no. 1378; 1 February, from Paris):
I am sending you the full score of my ballad Sara la baigneuse, which is dedicated to you. If you happen to have in one of your pockets 70 choristers who are musical, have a voice, know how to sing and are prepared to do a dozen rehearsals, enjoy this musical fruit, which you may find refreshing. […]
To Hippolyte Lecourt (CG no. 1399; 3 April, from Paris):
Go and see Morel and tell him for me that we have just rehearsed for the first time his overture and that we all find it admirable. It will be performed at our concert on the 29th of this month. We have played it three times this morning, the orchestra was almost at full strength and it is already going fairly well. We will still have another four rehearsals.
I swear it is murder to see an artist of Morel’s worth removed from the musical centre. His overture is proof by itself. It displays a harmonic dexterity, a skill in orchestration and modulation, a feeling for rhythm and a melodic distinction which, in my opinion, are of the first order. And I can say to you, Lecourt, that my friendship with the author does not influence me in the slightest in his favour. I would say the same if the piece was by Caraffa or Adam, but I would only be a thousand times more surprised.
I cannot find Morel’s last letter and I have forgotten again his address, which is why I am not writing to him directly. […]
P.S. Tell him that Louis arrived safely and in good health, that he is passionate about his career, that he is leaving for the Antilles in a fortnight, and that he shakes the hand of his friend Morel.
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1411; 9 May, from Paris):
[…] After the concert where your overture figured with such distinction, we have had another two in close succession, at the Jardin d’Hiver, for which the orchestra pas paid, and consequently there was no way of refusing. […]
Your overture was quite well played but received only tepid applause from M. Cohen’s public [M. Cohen had paid to have his large work le Moine performed at the concert on 29 April], but it was admired by all the artists and the true music-lovers. Your tickets were distributed in accordance with your instructions. I reserve the right to let you hear it one day with a vast orchestra, because it is a work which demands a large number of players. Bourges wrote about it quite well in the Gazette musicale. I will get round to it myself in the Journal des Débats, I know not when. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1428; 16 August, from Paris):
Mme Demeur (Melle Charton) is going to Marseille with her husband, where without doubt she can expect to be very successful. I recently heard her in London, and her talent is really of the kind that you must encourage and support to the best of your ability. So try to assist her in her musical enterprises, and introduce her to our friend Lecourt; it is a piece of good luck for Marseille to have such an artist coming to your theatre. M. Demeur is for his part a distinguished virtuoso, and if you are giving concerts he will be of great use to you. […]
See also CG no. 1401 (to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1449; 10 February, from Paris):
I have not written to you for a long time; that is bad, very bad on my part, and I beg you to forgive this apparent negligence. […]
What news from you? what is Lecourt doing? Richaut [the publisher] was telling me the other day that he had been asked for music of mine for Marseille; what is this about?…
As our Société Philharmonique in Paris has gone to pieces, I had your very fine overture removed to my room at the Conservatoire library, which houses exclusively music which belongs to me. If you need it, Rocquemont [Berlioz’s copyist] who lives at 27 Rue St-Marc, would go to collect it with a word from me and would send it to you. […]
And when is your new quartet going to be printed? When are we going to hear it? You rascal! If you start modestly producing masterpieces in this way!… It was high time; nobody could write quartets any more. […]
To Hippolyte Lecourt (CG no. 1496; 22 June, from Paris):
[…] I am very glad to hear that Morel will be returning to Paris. I am worried about his health; his last letter upset me. He seemed very sad. As you known, I have for him a keen and deep affection, independently of any musical influence. Give him my warmest greetings. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1542; 19 December, from Paris):
You have every right to rebuke me sternly for the long interruption in our correspondence, and yet you spare me!… I recognise there your usual kindness. If anything can reduce my guilt it is the certain knowledge that I intended to write to you the day after tomorrow. And now I am writing to you this evening […] Yes, I would very much like to sleep and yet I am writing to you immediately, to assure you that I felt great joy in hearing of your long-delayed appointment. For the last year I had been buttering up Batton [a professor at the Conservatoire] to push him to take action against the obstacles in your way; for he had seen, but he had not yet conquered. Fortunately he was almost as indignant as I was, and I did not have to stoop to excessive flattery. So now your mind is almost at rest, though your health may not be good!…
I often look for you at the Café du Cardinal, and I cannot conceive having lunch there without you. But you raise hopes of a visit to Paris and a 2nd quartet. […]
Louis asked me the other day to send you his regards. He is at Le Havre where he is finishing his course on hydrography. He is back from Havana. […]
See also CG nos. 1502, 1504 (to Hippolyte Lecourt)
To his sister Adèle (CG no. 1619; 16 July, from Paris):
[…] This does not prevent me from loving this dear score of Benvenuto more than ever; it is more lively, fresh, and novel (that is one of its great faults) than any of my other works. Liszt writes to me that they will put it on again carefully in Weimar. I am being asked about a possible performance in Marseille; but I do not believe they have the resources to make a success of it. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1768; 4 June, from Paris):
[…] I did what you asked me for the quartet. Desmarest [a cellist] organised a musical evening at home and I heard your work. It is very fine, and I am unable to say which of your two quartets I prefer. I was very struck by the adagio and the scherzo of this one.
I then saw Brandus. He does not want to print the work, as you had predicted. Yesterday I sent a message to Desmarest to return the manuscript to me, and following your instructions I will take it to Brandus for him to publish it, by using the 300 frs of the ministerial subscription to meet the costs. Brandus was unaware he had received those 300 frs., but Laval remembered and made him remember. […]
For myself I am very sad; Louis is in the Baltic on the Phlégéton. They say this ship is not due to take part in the fighting… but I do not believe a word of it. And this doubt causes me dreadful pain. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1771; 26 June, from Paris):
I would not have failed to supervise the engraving of your fine quartet; I had the task entrusted to M. Lavillemarais who has just engraved for me (in other words for Richaut) the piano score of Faust; but I am very pleased to know that M. Baudillon is willing to give me some help in correcting the proofs. I am apparently a dreadful proof-reader. […]
Your are quite right to remind me of the promise I made to you of my collected scores; unfortunately the publishers count their pennies, and I only have available a few copies of small works like Tristia, Sara, Vox populi […]
I have no news from the Baltic nor has Admiral Cécille, Louis’ mentor. Where are they? What is the fleet doing?… I shake Lecourt’s hand. Marie thanks you for your kind regards. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1784; 28 August, from Paris):
I hope that you are well and that you and our friend Lecourt have escaped from the terrible disease from which Marseille has suffered so much [an outbreak of cholera]. Give me your news quickly.
You must have received three weeks ago the corrected proofs of your quartet. Have you returned it? Have you written to Brandus? There have been some very serious commercial developments in that house recently. Gemmy [Brandus] and an associate of his in St Petersburg are now in charge of the business. The elder Brandus has had to retire. It is perhaps useful that you should be aware of all this. Tell me what I should do about your work, and I will do it. […]
I have just spent over a week by the seaside, at St Valery, to get rid of my anger. The fresh open air of the cliffs, the vast horizon, the solitude and silence have revived me completely. I would have stayed there longer but for the anxieties I was having about Louis. I came back in the hope of getting more quickly in Paris news of the siege of Bomarsund where he was. Fortunately he has emerged unscathed, and I have just received a letter from him. May God preserve you, my dear Morel, from ever experiencing such emotions …… […]
Has Richaut sent to the Marseille Conservatoire the two scores, Faust and The Flight to Egypt, which you had asked me to order from him?… […]
To Auguste Morel and Hippolyte Lecourt (CG no. 1805; 1 November, from Paris):
[…] I am busy organising the performance in Salle Herz of my sacred trilogy, L’Enfance du Christ. Whatever it may cost me, I cannot resist the temptation of letting my friends in Paris hear this work before I set off for Germany. One of my great regrets will be that you and Lecourt will not be there. I will send you the libretto together with your music. This will take place on 10 December. […]
Louis has just arrived from Cherbourg and I hope to see him in a few days. He was at Bomarsund, poor child, amidst all these horrors, and now he is on the point of departing for Sebastopol. You cannot believe, my dear friend, how touched I am by the interest you take in him. He is worthy of it, he is a good boy, and will make his way.
You probably know that I have married again. All my friends, and even my uncle, were of the opinion that I should make my position legal as soon as possible. Marie sends you many greetings. […]
[…] My dear Lecourt, had you not become sensible, you would commit the folly of coming to Paris on 8 or 9 December next to hear my oratorio L’Enfance du Christ. I am getting it performed for the first time on the 10th, the day before my birthday, which last year was celebrated in the same fashion in Leipzig, and which exceptionally we will be celebrating in Paris. But do not commit this extravagance, I beg you; I would be upset at being the cause of such an upheaval.
To Ernest Legouvé (CG no. 1887; 18 January, from Paris):
[…] If you will allow me I will come one of these days to your place accompanied by an accompanist in order to do my best to calumny Faust. The accompanist is a child prodigy, called Ritter, who has the self-assurance of a very intelligent man, and whom I believe is destined to a great musical future. He has already written several piano pieces of very real merit and quite exceptional value. His father is M. Bennet from Cette, whose fortune allows him to steer his son right away from the muddy paths of productive music. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1937; 14 April, from Paris):
[…] Now I am immersed in the Te Deum, and this is the time when your absence seems strange to me… I hope all the same that everything goes well. Will you be kind enough to reproduce in the papers in Marseille the attached announcement [text in CG V p. 52 n. 1]. The immense church has to be full or we are lost. This is costing 7,000 francs.
Do I understand that you are writing a new quintet?… so much the better. May this difficult genre flourish in France at last!
Your friend Baudillon is getting married to a young pianist who looks very graceful and extremely pleasant. And you? Are you not getting married? You need domesticity, you lack tender loving care, I fear, sensitive and melancholic as you are.
I shake the hand of Lecourt. Théodore Bennet (Ritter) has dedicated to him his piano reduction of our adagio from Romeo.
This child is very remarkable, and I love him sincerely. […]
To his sister Adèle (CG no. 1961; 4 May, from Paris):
[…] These are things that need to be seen and heard… M. Lecourt, an erudite and devoted music-lover who had come from Marseille specially, was drenched with tears after the last movement, and he was not the only one. When it was all over I stood there surrounded by a crowd, unable to leave my place, and had it not been for the sanctity of the place I believe I would have been crushed in embraces. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 1972; 2 June, from Paris):
[…] As for the Te Deum, I am publishing it in association with Gemmy Brandus; and if the Marseille Conservatoire can acquire a copy I would encourage this. The subscription price is 40 fr. Mention this to Lecourt; according to Bennet I should be able to find five or six subscribers in Marseille. Laval told me he has sent the last proofs of your quartet; have you now finished with it? is there anything I should say to Brandus about this? […]
You ask me to tell you about the Te Deum, but I find this very difficult. All I will say is that the impact of this work on me has been enormous, and the same is true of my performers. Generally speaking they have been enormously struck by the gigantic scale of the design and of the style, and you can believe that the Tibi Omnes and the Judex in their two different ways are pieces of Babylonian, Ninivite dimensions, which will be found even more powerful when heard in a smaller and less reverberant hall than the church of St Eustache. […]
To Liszt (CG no. 1975; 7 June, from Paris):
[…] The day before yesterday Méry was introduced to Rossini. On seeing him the provençal poet fainted and drowned in the rising tide of his tears. Rossini immediately dissolved in tears in his turn, then Mme Rossini followed her husband, and finally the janitor wept in his lodge, moved by this harmony of tears.
AN ORGY OF TEARS!! Everybody there is so sensitive!… Only Méry is sincere. With him the cult of Rossini is like a fixation, as plain-chant is for d’Ortigue. Pro-di-gious!… […]
To his sister Adèle (CG no. 1984; 22 June, from London):
[…] We have come here with a Frenchman, who is the father of a child prodigy (the young Ritter aged 14), and has accompanied us solely to let his son hear Roméo et Juliette. They are leaving tomorrow. […]
See also CG no. 1996 (to Auguste Morel)
To his sister Adèle (CG no. 2076; 8 January, from Paris):
[…] I will not write to you about Louis; from him I get nothing but worrying news. He now wants to enter the merchant fleet; my friend Morel in Marseille wrote to me this morning that he agrees with Louis, and that, together with my other friend Lecourt, a barrister in Marseille who deals with commercial law, he will be able to find him a good position on some merchant ship. May God wish it! I am at a loss what to do, and I do not want to trouble Admiral Cécille any further. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2077; 9 January, from Paris):
[…] Thank you for your and Lecourt’s good intentions for my son; I do not share your views about the merchant fleet, and if I am wrong so much better. But if Louis leaves the state navy there is no assured career for him at this time, and I am completely unable to be of help to him. The opinion of my sister and of my uncle is that he should stay where he is; he is going to annoy them all, particularly my uncle, whose goodwill it is so much to his advantage to conciliate. I am at a loss what more to say; he made me write to the emperor [CG no. 1960] to help him achieve the rank he aspires to; I have mobilised without success Admiral Cécille and all my friends at the Débats. In any event, I hardly need to tell you how touched I am by the interest you are showing in him, and to express my deep gratitude for what you will do for him. […]
To his sister Adèle (CG no. 2105; 9 March, from Paris):
[…] My friends in Marseille assure me that they will be able to secure him a lucrative position on a merchant ship. Another friend, M. Bennet, a ship-builder who lives in Paris, claims that he too will be able to come to his help, and that the imperial navy is a dead-end where Louis will stay for many long years without any promotion. I do not know who to believe; at any rate, it is not a matter of him getting involved in commerce, but to sail for the benefit of traders and to command in the end commercial expeditions. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2128; 23 May, from Paris):
[…] Louis writes to me from Toulon. He is going to give up state service, and his intention is to board a ship for a trip of a year to 15 months.
Be kind enough to help him find a ship where he will be reasonably comfortable and which is sailing soon. Please ask Lecourt for me without delay to assist you in this search. You will oblige me greatly. […]
I have seen your friend, whose name I do not recall (M. Rostand) and who talks very well about many subjects and even about music. He would have liked to hear some work of mine during his stay in Paris, but it was not possible to satisfy his request.
I am immensely busy, and to tell you the truth, extremely ill, though I am unable to discover what the problem is. An unbelievable feeling of sickness; I fall asleep in the streets etc., but perhaps it is the spring.
I have embarked on an opera in five acts, for which I am doing everything, the words and the music. I have reached act 3 of the poem, and finished yesterday the second. All this between us. I will polish it at leisure after doing my best to knock it into shape. […]
Farewell, my dear Morel, I know that your business with Brandus is at last completed [the publication of Morel’s new quartet]. About time too. Bennet is in Nancy with his son. I never see Lecourt’s son, though I would be very happy to talk to him. He is said to be a charming young man. […]
Louis Berlioz in Marseille to his father in Paris (CG no. 2138bis [vol. VIII]; 13 June):
[…] M. Morel, at whose place I am staying and having my meals, has been of great help in the negotiations, he knows everybody; he introduced me to the leading broker in Marseille, who immediately pointed me to two ships that are about to sail. The persons who own these ships are among his friends, but there are no vacancies […]
I am very ill at ease here; M. Morel is so kind that I am worried of being a nuisance to his family, I have my meals and sleep at his place, in short I am like the family child. On one occasion I went to talk to him about looking for board and lodging in town, but he would not agree to this. […]
Auguste Morel to Berlioz in Paris (CG no. 2148bis [vol. VIII]; 28 June):
At last, the beginnings of a recognition that has been too slow in coming! You are now a member of the Institut. You know without me having to say it how much pleasure this news brings, to myself and to all those good and true friends in Marseille. One must hope that you will not stop there, and perhaps this opera on which you are working at the moment will make you achieve the rank on the French operatic scene to which you are entitled.
I have not written to you earlier, as I was hoping to be able to announce to you at any moment that we had managed to find a place for Louis. But so far it has not been possible. It is not because of any lack of goodwill on the part of Lecourt’s and my friends. […] But it is just a matter of having a little patience. […] So you need have no fears on this score, Louis will most definitely secure a place and in time, once he is Captain, he will find in the merchant fleet of our city a good command and a good position.
I have not shown your last letter to your son, and with good reason. How can you talk of indiscretion with the pleasure he gives us in accepting our modest hospitality. We have a room that is free; admittedly it is not very beautiful, but it is adequate for him and he occupies it; what could be simpler? As for our everyday lifestyle he is also prepared to be content with that, and we are five at home, including my young niece; you know that when there is enough for five, that will also do for six. It is the ABC of domestic economy. So let us say no more on this subject and do not pick a quarrel with this poor child about it. […]
To Madame Bennet (CG no. 2152; 1 July, in Paris):
[…] You will meet for dinner a truly extraordinary young man called Ritter, whose piano-playing makes mad with despair those who have not heard him, and whose compositions make mad with joy those who have been able to hear them. He has a father, who between us is a rather eccentric character, who has the fad of playing the bassoon at meals, at weddings and if allowed would even do so at funerals. But I made sure a solid plug was inserted in the tube of his instrument, and you may rest in peace that the bassoon will not raise its voice. […]
Hippolyte Lecourt to Berlioz in Baden-Baden (CG no. 2158bis [vol. VIII]; 5 August):
I understand all your concern for Louis, and Morel and I often talk about it. Unfortunately we have to wait. Louis would like to make a trip to India, as required to achieve the rank of master mariner, and this is not the season for departures. As soon as something suitable becomes available, we will secure him a place.
I wanted to see Morel and show him your letter before answering you. I have not met him. But I believe I can take it on myself to tell you that your tact is too easily alarmed by the consequences of the hospitality which he is very happy to offer to Louis. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2184; 15 November, from Paris):
[…] I have just obtained one of my portraits, and you will receive it shortly.
How is Lecourt? What is happening on the musical scene in Marseille, if not good at least bad?
Marie thanks you for your kind regards. […]
See also CG no. 2170 (to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2225; 25 April, from Paris):
[…] Thank you for your promptness in informing me that you have received news from Louis, but I too already had a letter from Bombay in which he told me about the same as you do. Later I will send you a letter with a request to hand it to him on his arrival in Marseille, which he says will only be at the end of August.
[…] I have just received a letter from Lecourt. He tells me that you are taking enormous trouble to get the Festivities movement from Roméo et Juliette going. Why have you attempted this piece? without harps?… without an orchestra of sufficient strength?… Tell me how it went at the concert. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2247; 7 September, from Paris):
Once again you have showered Louis with kindness and proofs of affection; allow me to thank you, and also to ask you to convey my deep gratitude to Madame your mother, about whom Louis never speaks without tenderness. He is beginning to show himself less of a child and to concentrate more on his future; I have no doubt that your good advice has played a large part in this progress. […]
When is the Marseille theatre going to deal with your opera? Keep me informed of everything that concerns this. If I had some money put aside, I would not fail to go and attend the first performance. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2257; 27 or 28 October, from Paris):
Thanks to your connections and to Lecourt’s intervention, Louis has at last been accepted as Lieutenant on board the ship La Reine des Clippers; it is an important asset for him. […] Besides he is going to take advantage of the leave granted to him to spend a few days with my sister in Vienne and pay a visit to my uncle in Tournon. I imagine that when he arrives in Marseille he will find you back from your excursion to Aix. Should his stay with you be a prolonged one, it is understood that you will allow me to pay for his board and lodging and that you will not be cross.
I have recently seen M. de Rémusat who was the first to inform me of the good news of Louis’ acceptance. I believe he was attending yesterday the inauguration of the small concert hall (the Beethoven Hall) which Bennet has just opened to the public.
In one of his letters Lecourt seems to be worried that I have chosen a bad subject. Could it be that he still entertains this old prejudice against ancient subjects?… Ancient subjects have become new once more, provided their authors do not treat them in the lamentable manner of M. de Marmontel, Durollet and Guillard. I believe that is not the case with my work. I assure you that it has extraordinary movement, variety of contrast and effectiveness on stage. The subject must therefore be forgiven for the beauty of its feelings and passions, and the poetry of its ideas. I have pillaged Virgil and Shakespeare, and I have also found a scene of tremendous effect, which is not in the manner of last century’s lyric tragedies. I am writing this score with a passion that seems to increase day by day. Tell Lecourt that very probably he has a misconception of my poem, as he does not know it, but from all this, the words and the music, will result some enormous work which he should be pleased with, I give him my word. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2266; 21 December, from Paris):
You have told me not to, so I can no longer speak of all your kind deeds for Louis and the constant interest you take in everything that concerns him. All the same I am more and more sensitive to it. My uncle and my sister are also very touched by your care and affection for him. Thanks to you and to the excellent Lecourt, he is now installed on a magnificent ship and invested with duties which must force him to work hard and to become ever more reasonable. The day after you receive this letter, please go to MM. Roux and Fressinet the bankers, as they have 150 frs. to hand you from me. It really is the least compensation I can offer you for the expenses that my son has already caused you during his stay with you.
I have high hopes for the treatment which your doctor has just prescribed for you. In any case, whether he is right or not in his conjectures, you will know soon. You must be tormented by having to suspend work on your score. It would be torture for me to be forced to abandon mine, particularly at this moment. And yet is there anything sadder, more miserable than our musical world in Paris!… […]
See also CG no. 2253 (to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2294; 7 May, from Paris):
I have just received a letter from Louis; I hasten to inform you, as you are his best friend, that he has arrived safe and sound in Bombay and is very pleased. It is to be feared that La Reine des Clippers may be obliged to go to Canton, and to circumnavigate Cape Horn before returning to France. This would greatly prolong the absence of our dear traveller. I did not want to bother you about the money you have sent me; but you must agree that the price you agreed to fix for Louis’ expenses with you is prodigiously modest.
It is now a month since I have completely finished my score of Les Troyens, and I am now busy reducing it for the piano. This task helps me to make a critical study of the details of the work, and in this way I am better able to identify certain flaws which I rectify as I go along.
I do not know what will happen to this work; the readings of the poem I have made in different places have been extraordinarily successful. […]
Farewell, dear friend, send me your news and those of Lecourt to whom I send my most affectionate greetings. His son came to see me once. He is a very charming young man. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2354; 13 February, from Paris):
What stage have you reached with your rehearsals? Do give me your news. I recently saw M. de Rémusat twice and he did not tell me anything specific about your opera. […]
Louis is arriving in a month, I hope; be kind enough to hand him the enclosed letter.
I expect to find him completely serious, and determined to work hard for his exam. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2384; 19 July, from Paris):
Thank you, my dear Morel, for your good news. I was dreadfully worried and did not dare to share my anxieties with you; I was anyway sure that you would write to me the moment you had any news.
[…] I have been very ill again these last few days, though I believe anxiety had much to do with it. I will not tell you how much I love Louis, as you know it and love him yourself, and the affection you have for him has redoubled mine for you. So here he is, and I await a word from him, but now in a calm frame of mind. My greetings to Lecourt. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2392; 14 August, from Paris):
[…] Farewell, many greetings to you and to the excellent Lecourt, and please convey my respectful greetings to Mme Morel whom Louis loves and respects like a mother. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2421; 26 October, from Paris):
Mme Meillet is engaged by the director of the Marseille theatre. She is going to sing in Marseille the repertoire of the Opéra. She is a charming woman and an artist of real merit, and besides an excellent musician. Be kind enough to pay her a visit and offer your good offices, and to recommend her to our colleague Bénédit. You will greatly oblige me; this will be an excellent deed and entirely worthy of you. I believe she is leaving tomorrow. Give me this proof of friendship.
Louis asks me to convey to you many affectionate greetings. He is working hard in Dieppe and is beginning to have good hopes for his exam.
I am still on the rack of my nervous illness. Every day I receive electric shock treatment. The effect is neither good nor bad. Today’s doctors are in truth the sons of those of Molière’s time. What clowns!… What a joke medicine is!… And your eyes, how are they? […]
I will not be able to go to your first performance; I am too ill; I spend half of my days in bed.
See also CG nos. 2363, 2377, 2398 (all to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2487; 9 March, from Paris):
[…] Let me embrace and congratulate you, and allow me to make a request: send me a few notes on the main passages in the score, so that I may cite them when recording the success of the work. This cannot offend in any way your modesty, and I have complete faith in your way of judging yourself.
Lecourt does not provide me with any details, so yours will be all the more valuable to me. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2494; 4 April, from Paris):
I am very happy that my article in the Débats [28 March 1860] caused you some pleasure; it was not well expressed and stopped rather short, but I was so ill when writing it that I am surprised I was even able to fill my five columns. Lecourt’s letter helped me after yours, and no one, I think, can find my trust in my correspondent strange. I will go next Saturday to the office of the journal (it is impossible to go any earlier) and I will send you half-a-dozen copies of the number which concerns you. I am not well, I spend most of my time in bed, I am racked by cruel worries, and all I look forward to is sleep, waiting for something better. Do not speak of my illness to Louis, this would cause him alarm.
Your success is causing quite a stir here. I am very happy to hear that your score is going to be printed; but this will cost over 6,000 francs, which the subscription will cover.
Farewell, many greetings to Lecourt and give my greetings to M. de Rémusat. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2505; 17 June, from Paris):
I have just received your delightful letter and the note it contained. Thank you for all the friendly things you say. I am very happy to hear that your household has been brought to life with the presence of your nephew, and I would be delighted if Louis had the opportunity of meeting this nice young man. Louis is at Le Havre at the moment, on the point of sitting his second exam; the first he passed successfully. If the same happens with the second, Louis will become a master mariner and will be looking for a ship. […]
I recently had dinner with d’Ortigue at the flat of the excellent Rémusat, and we drank to your health and that of Lecourt. After dinner there was a performance of a piano trio and of another piece by Rémusat, both of them, in truth, very good. I did not even know that Rémusat plays the violin. So then, is the air of Marseille essentially musical? […]
To his son Louis (CG no. 2549; 18 April, from Paris):
[…] At the Conservatoire I was given a rare ovation after the performance of the scenes from Faust. M. de Rémusat, who was there, must have written about it to Morel and to Lecourt. […]
To Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein (CG no. 2557; ca. 10 June, from Paris):
[…] You rather made fun of me about this famous garden in the Vatican, and you were right; that will teach me to talk only of the things I know well. I must have denied the existence of this famous garden in connection with a sentence of Méry. He was mentioning the flowers of melody in the work of Palestrina, which (he says) were the first to blossom in the garden of the Vatican. Now if there is a garden in the Vatican, there are assuredly no melodies in Palestrina. […]
Louis Berlioz in Marseille to his father in Paris (CG no. 2580bis [vol. VIII]; 24 November):
[…] I have to spend a third of my life on land, and I ought to spend it on my own. I have in front of my eyes: Joseph Lecourt; he is of the same age as I am and lives happily with his family; Léon Morel, cherished by his excellent uncle and his grandmother; my colleagues, almost all of them married, who when they arrive on land run to warm up and rest carefree in their homes.
As for me, alone, a pariah abandoned by his parents, by his close friend (Alexis does not write to me any more), I can only count on the charity of a stranger, on Madame Lawson…… […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2596; 2 March, from Paris):
Be good enough to give me news of Louis. Has he left for the Indies? What I had predicted has happened, he has not written to me a single line. I cannot tell you anything about this which you have not guessed long ago; but I confess that this pain is one of the cruellest I have ever experienced. […]
M. de Rémusat came to see me, and we talked a great deal about you and the excellent Lecourt, to whom I ask you to convey my greetings.
When will you be coming? We have so much to say to each other… but I beg you again to give me news of this unhappy child who is tormenting me. […]
See nos. 2705, 2708 (both to Hippolyte Lecourt), 2713, 2755, 2760 (all to Auguste Morel)
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 2888; 21 August, from Paris):
I thank you for your cordial letter; this cross of Officer [of the Légion d’honneur], and especially the unofficial notification of this favour by Marshall Vaillant [CG no. 2874], caused me pleasure because of my friends, but a little also because of the displeasure it causes to the others. But how can you preserve any illusions on the musical realities of our country? Everything is dead there, except for the authority of imbeciles; one must resign oneself to admit it, because that is how it is. […]
To Hippolyte Lecourt (CG no. 2929; 10 November, from Paris):
You are a very good friend, my dear Lecourt, you think of things that I myself have forgotten. The anniversary of the first performance of Les Troyens only brings back to mind torments of every kind. […]
I have just made a trip to Grenoble, to Vienne and to Lyon; I went to visit our wonderful valley of Grésivaudan, more beautiful than anything I have ever seen or dreamed of… I came back sadder and more exasperated against the realities of life, against time which passes and never returns, against this stupid future which sucks us in like feathers to take us to nothingness… But your remarks on suicide are unnecessary; I have no great taste for suicide, it is dirty, it is always disgusting and unseemly, and it is almost compromising for the friends of the person who kills himself. Only physical suffering can justify it.
This does not prevent me from dying of boredom (singular) and sorrows (plural).
Louis is in Mexico, and I am counting the days which separate us from his return; our mutual affection increases, there are no friends who love each other as we do. You know that he is now a captain. Many greetings to Morel and to Rémusat. […]
Louis Berlioz in St Nazaire to his father in Paris (CG no. 2964; 5 January):
[…] When I take myself aside, when I have a conversation with myself (this happens to me often), I carry out a serious review of all my many affections; I find M. Morel, M. Lecourt, my cousins, Mme Lawson, M. Frosmont, Mme Wilckens.
I love them all sincerely.
But Alexis is above them all, far above, he is my friend. […]
Auguste Morel in Marseille to Berlioz in Paris (CG no. 3115; 13 March):
It is a long time since our correspondence has been interrupted. Why? I have no idea.
But I cannot resist the pleasure of telling you how happy I was to read in Le Ménestrel the article by Gasperini* and the story of the ovation which your Septet from Les Troyens has brought you at the Pasdeloup concert.
How I wish I had been there!
But you had there your friend, I might almost say, our friend Liszt!
Farewell, dear Berlioz, I still love and admire you.
What about Louis? It is a long time that we have not had any news from him.
* In Le Ménestrel of 11 March 1866, p. 117, writing about the concert given by Pasdeloup at the Cirque Napoléon on 7 March, A. de Gasperini had said:
The superb Septet from Les Troyens was encored. It is hard to imagine the effect of this piece on an impressionable public that was full of anticipation and moved by the company of all the great works it was immersed in. Someone called out the name of Berlioz, who was hardly visible in his seat and was probably taken aback by this outpouring of enthusiasm. His name passed from mouth to mouth; people stood up and applauded; he was greeted by the entire hall. Berlioz bowed and muttered a few words of thanks. His emotion was deep; a shaft of inexpressible joy had just crossed this life of struggle and suffering. Those who were closest to him could see that Berlioz had wept; he was not the only one in the hall to do so.
Liszt, Liszt the abbot, had cheered furiously!
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 3117; 15 March, from Paris):
Thank you, my dear Morel, for remembering me so kindly. I do not know why we write to each other so rarely; or rather, I know only too well: I am always ill, even the briefest written note exhausts me and doubles my pain, and I spend three quarters of my life in bed.
On the performance of the Septet you must have seen many more articles than that in Le Ménestrel; it is causing a tremendous stir. There is nothing but joy and sorrow in this world. Yesterday there was a performance at St Eustache of Liszt’s Mass… Louis is going to be captain of the first rank.
P. S. Louis is still at St Nazaire. He spent three weeks with me.
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 3241; 12 May, from Paris):
I thank you for your cordial letter; but your warmth on the subject of music almost surprised me. Such is nowadays my indifference for all these things. Yet when I see a few warm hearts approach music with passion I seem to revive, though it does not last long. Everything at this moment seems to me so childish and flat. I suffer more and more from my nervous complaint, and the rest does not interest me. […]
I do not have any score to send you, but here is something else: tell me if you have the full score of the Requiem; a rigorously corrected edition has just been published in Milan and I asked Ricordi to send me a few copies. So if you wish I will send you the new edition free from a few engraving mistakes and errors of prosody which had escaped me and which I have corrected with the greatest care. That makes our French edition of Schlesinger look very pale. […]
Louis is still in Mexico; I will be writing to him one of these days and he will certainly be very touched by the fond memories that madame Morel has preserved of him. He is like you, he is passionately interested in my little musical doings.
Shake the hand of our good friend Lecourt for me. I sometimes get news of both of you from M. de Rémusat who is once more in Paris. There is someone who still preserves his musical illusions! He saddens me, because he believes everything he says. […]
To Auguste Morel (CG no. 3360; 26 May, from Paris):
I have just heard from Lecourt that you wrote to me in Monaco and that your letter was returned to you. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I was very shaken and at the moment still have great difficulty in writing. Do not be surprised if I have not said anything to you, my two falls, one in Monaco and the other in Nice, had emptied me of all my strength. At present the direct consequences of these two falls are more or less gone, but my intestinal complaint has come back and I suffer more than ever before. I have nothing but cruel things to write to you. I went to Russia to distract my attention a little and I stood up fairly well to this double trip to Moscow and St Petersburg; they entertained me in every possible way. The Grand Duchess lavished on me every care and attention.
I conducted six concerts at the Conservatoire of St Petersburg and two likewise in Moscow. Now I think of nothing, and I see you disenchanted like myself, and Lecourt like you; I would have had great pleasure in coming to see both of you, when I was in the neighbourhood of Marseille, and I would have gone on my return from Nice had I not been in such bad shape. But how! Then I would have been far more devastated by your company than by any one else’s. Few of my friends loved Louis as you did. And I am unable to forget…
Forgive me both of you.
I will be writing to Lecourt in a while. […]
The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18
Page Berlioz and Marseille: friends and acquaintances created on 11 December 2010.
© 2010-2013 (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the photos, engravings and information on Berlioz and Marseille pages.
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