Berlioz’s Birthplace – La Côte Saint-André

Place Hector Berlioz

    In 1890 a statue of Berlioz, made by the artist Lenoir and cast in bronze by the firm of Thiébaut Frères Fondeurs, was erected in the Esplanade, which was later renamed Place Hector Berlioz. The event took place on 28 September 1890 in the presence of many national, departmental and local dignitaries. The Berlioz family was represented by Commandant Chapot and his two sons. A copy of the programme of the inauguration is reproduced on this site. See also the text (in English translation) of report on the inauguration of Berlioz’s statue which appeared in the Grenoble-Revue of 15 October 1890, written by the journalist Louis Bassette, and the report (in French) in Le Ménestrel written by Julien Tiersot.

    It should be mentioned that the plan to set up a statue of Berlioz in his home town originated as far back as 1880, a full decade before it was realised. For the background to the event see the dossier of letters of Georges de Massougnes published on this site.

    In Berlioz’s time the Esplanade, situated at the south-east corner of the town, was, according to David Cairns, one of the main centres of social activity, ‘where the men played boules and the band of the National Guard practised, and the women and children walked among the lime trees on fine Sunday afternoons’ (Berlioz vol. I p. 25). The Esplanade is now (2008) a car park.

    Lenoir’s statue of Berlioz at La Côte is a fine copy of the original erected in honour of the composer in Paris, illustrated on the engraving below. That statue was unveiled in a ceremony held on 17 October 1886 in a square called at the time Square Vintimille. See our Berlioz in Paris page (Square Berlioz) for further details.

    Lenoir himself, when interviewed in 1886 about the original statue set up in Paris, made the following comment (Le Ménestrel, 19 September 1886, p. 340 [translation by Michel Austin]):

In carrying out my work I was guided by the idea of depicting a striking synthesis of Berlioz the composer and Berlioz the conductor. Hence I have represented him in a standing position, next to a desk on which he is leaning his arm, with his hand holding his head, deep in thought. I drew my inspiration for this from his Memoirs and his correspondence, which reveal the preoccupations of a mind striving to create masterpieces, but at the same time the concerns of a performing musician. As for the features of his face, I made use of the various photographs that have been made of him, and of the portrait by Courbet. The same characteristic is noticeable in all these pictures. The eyes are sombre, the brow knitted, the lips tight, and everything points to a mind that is laden with cares: this I have sought to reproduce and the slant of the head adds further emphasis. I also consulted for their advice the former friends of Berlioz, among them M. Alexandre and Mme Massart, who is professor of piano at the Conservatoire. As I was progressing in my work, the friends of the Master came to help me with their memories, and their advice has been extremely valuable.

Place Hector Berlioz in pictures

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

I. Place Hector Berlioz in times past

Place Hector Berlioz in the early 20th century

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Place Hector Berlioz in the early 20th century

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Place Hector Berlioz in the early 20th century

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Place Hector Berlioz in the early 20th century

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Berlioz’s statues in Paris in 1886 and in La Côte in 1904

      

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The engraving on the left is scanned from: Hector Berlioz: Sa Vie et ses Œuvres, by Adolphe Jullien, 1888, Paris: La Librairie de l’Art.

Berlioz’s statues in 1907

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Berlioz’s statues in 1927

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Berlioz’s statue in the mid-20th century

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I. Place Hector Berlioz in our time (1998, 2007, 2008, 2014)

Berlioz monument – 1998

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Statue of Berlioz – 1998

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Statue of Berlioz – 1998

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Statue of Berlioz – 1998

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The following two photos, taken in 2007, were sent to us by M. Michel Verjus to whom we are very grateful.

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The photo below has been taken by Mr Peter Curbishley; we are most grateful to him for sending us a copy in 2007.

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Place Hector Berlioz in 2008

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Berlioz monument – 2008

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Berlioz monument – 2008

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The base of the monument clockwise:

Berlioz monument (front of the base) – 2008

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Berlioz monument (right side of the base) – 2008

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Berlioz monument (rear of the base) – 2008

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Berlioz monument (left side of the base) – 2008

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Berlioz monument (rear view) – 2008

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Berlioz monument (rear view, detail) – 2008

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Statue of Berlioz – 2008

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Statue of Berlioz – 2008

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Statue of Berlioz – 2008

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Statue of Berlioz – 2008

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2014

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Statue of Berlioz – 2015

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We are most grateful to an anonymous visitor to our site for sending us this photo.

© 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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