Berlioz

 

The Hector Berlioz Website

Berlioz’s Birthplace – La Côte Saint-André

The Berlioz family home

Berlioz home

This page is also avalaible in French 

    The house in which Berlioz was born and spent the first 18 years of his life is situated at number 69 of rue de la République.

    At the back, the garden overlooks the plain spreading to the south and east in the distance. David Cairns describes this part of the house thus (Berlioz vol. I p.24): ‘From the window of the room you looked out on to the cobbled courtyard, with its water pump in the corner and its sundial, and on to the rectangular garden where a fountain played and above whose massive red-tiled walls, on summer days, the Plaine de Bièvre and its border of wooded hills shimmered in the heat.’

    David Cairns (Berlioz vol. I loc. cit.) also states: ‘According to a tradition reported by the French historian Julien Tiersot at the end of the last century, one of the first-floor rooms, just along the gallery from [Dr Berlioz’s] study, was the schoolroom where the young Berlioz worked at his lessons.’

    On 21 June 1885, just over 16 years after Berlioz’s death, a memorial plaque was installed on the main wall of the house by his fellow townsmen and women. Since then the house has undergone a series of restorations the first of which took place in 1888. A comparison of the present state of the house with an 1883 engraving shows the extent of work carried out to bring the building to the state it was when Dr Berlioz and his family lived in it from the late 18th century to the middle of the next one.

    The Berlioz family home has undergone several major renovations since it was acquired in the 1930s and turned into the Musée Hector Berlioz. The last major renovation took place between 1 January 2002 and June 2003 (see also the Hector Berlioz Museum page on this site).

All the modern photographs reproduced on this page were taken by Michel Austin in April 1998, September 2008, and August 2012; other pictures have been scanned from postcards and books in our own collection. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

The fountain in the rue de la République in 2012

Berlioz’s family home in 2008

Berlioz’s family home in 1998

Berlioz’s family home in the late 19th and early 20th century  

The rue de la République in the early 20th century 

In the very first article he published in the Berlioziana series, entitled “At the Musee Berlioz” (Le Ménestrel, 3 January 1904), Julien Tiersot mentions this fountain in connection with a little story concerning Berlioz and his life-long friend from La Côte, Antoine Charbonnel; they went to Paris together in October 1821 to study medicine.

Charbonnel, the first companion of his travels, whose friend he remained until his death, was through his presence a link with the memories and traditions of their common home town […]. Some memories of their life together have been preserved by the grandson of this friend of happy times. He and Hector, on a return journey during the holidays, wanted to amuse themselves with student pranks at the expense of the inhabitants of La Côte. During the year Berlioz had let his hair grow long, to follow the fashion of the « Jeunes Frances », « this monstrous antediluvian head of hair, a bristling mop rising on his brow like a primeval forest on a precipitous crag », as Heinrich Heine has described it. Charbonnel on his side had made himself up as best he could. Having thus made themselves unrecognizable they went out one evening in front of the Cuissein fountain, which is still in the main street [the present rue de la République], placed three burning candles on the rim, and proceeded to serenade the inhabitants: Berlioz played the guitar, and Charbonnel sang romances in the manner of a troubadour. The public gathered around in amazement and wondered what all this meant, until the spell was broken by the shrewdness of a local resident who exclaimed suddenly: « Je creye bian que y est l’grand Charbounè !  » [I rather think this is big Charbonnel] The Cuissein fountain is still there: it is yet another memorial of this great Berlioz Museum which the whole of La Côte-Saint-André is !

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz’s family home in 2008

View from the rue de la République

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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The commemorative plaque installed in 1885

Berlioz home

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The plaque reads: ‘To the memory of Hector Berlioz, born in this house on 11 December 1803. His compatriots proud of his genius and glory’.

The back garden

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz’s family home in 1998

 View from the rue de la République

Berlioz home

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The commemorative plaque installed in 1885

Berlioz home

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The back garden

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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The first floor balcony

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz’s family home before restorations in the mid-20th century

Berlioz home

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This photo is courtesy of Berlioz and the Romantic Imagination (London, 1969).

 

Berlioz’s family home in the late 19th and early 20th century

Berlioz’s family home in 1883

Berlioz home

The above picture shows the Berlioz family home in 1883, before the installation of the commemorative plaque. At the time this picture was drawn, the main road on which the house is situated was called rue Nationale, and the number of the house was 83.  It is now 69 and the name of the road is rue de la République.

The above engraving is scanned from: Hector Berlioz: Sa Vie et ses Œuvres, by Adolphe Jullien, 1888, Paris: La Librairie de l’Art (in our collection).

Berlioz home

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The above photo was taken at a time when the road was still called rue Nationale and Berlioz’s parental house, on the left, was still no. 83.

Berlioz’s family home around 1903

Berlioz home

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This card was posted to Lyon on 16 November 1903.

Berlioz’s family home around 1904

Berlioz home

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This card was posted on 16 October 1904.

Berlioz’s family home around 1909

Berlioz home

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This card was posted on 4 December 1909.

Berlioz’s family home in the early 20th century

Berlioz home

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The rue de la République in the early 20th century 

The rue de la République around 1909

Berlioz home

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The rue de la République around 1916

Berlioz home

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This card was posted in September 1916. Berlioz’s family home is further down the road on the right, out of the view in this picture.  

The rue de la République in the early 20th century

Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Berlioz home

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Souvenirs from La Côte Saint-André

Berlioz home

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© Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page.

Copyright notice: The texts, photos, images and musical scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law. All rights of publication or reproduction of this material in any form, including Web page use, are reserved. Their use without our explicit permission is illegal.

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