Berlioz’s Memoirs – childhood memories
Chronology of Berlioz’s visits to La Côte and other family events
The Berlioz family tree
List of buildings and places (with links to the relevant photos and commentary)
This page is also available in French
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.
This page is devoted to La Côte Saint-André, the small town situated between Vienne, Lyon and Grenoble in the Department of Isère, where Berlioz was born at 5 o’clock in the evening on 11 December 1803. He spent there the first eighteen years of his life, years which had a decisive influence in shaping his personality and outlook, even before he moved to Paris to begin the study of medicine in the autumn of 1821. The first 4 chapters of the Memoirs give a vivid account of his childhood memories of life at La Côte (see below).
The page was first created after a visit by us to La Côte Saint-André on 23-25 March 1998, and has been developed further and enlarged since. All the photographs displayed in the page were taken by us (unless otherwise stated). All the text and entries on this and related pages are also our own, as is the translation of the opening chapters of the Memoirs included. All rights of reproduction of these photos and of all the text and information provided here are reserved.
Similar to our Berlioz in Paris and Berlioz in London pages, we have kept the various locations separate from the introductory page. Below you will find a listing of buildings and places associated with Berlioz and his family, which serves as a concise guide to the relevant locations and provides links to individual pages, each devoted to a particular location or building in La Côte, with further information as well as photographs and engravings to illustrate them. A second listing provides a chronology of Berlioz’s visits to La Côte and other family events.
A study by Christian Wasselin of the influence of Berlioz’s early years on his subsequent development is available on this site in an English translation.
In March 1848 Berlioz, at the time in London, found himself stranded by the revolutions which were breaking out all over Europe. This was the context in which he started to write his Memoirs, only a few months before the death of his father on 28 July. The first four chapters give a vivid account of his childhood memories and of his recollections of these early formative years at La Côte. They are reproduced here both in the French original and in our own English translation.
Berlioz spent the first eighteen years of his life at La Côte Saint-André and the neighbouring region. For the first decade of his stay in Paris from late 1821 onwards his visits to his native town and his family there remained frequent, and he took the opportunity of his travels to and from Italy in 1831-1832 to revisit La Côte. After his return to Paris in late 1832 his visits became much rarer, and ceased after the death of his father in 1848, except for a trip in 1854 to settle his father’s inheritance. His sisters had already moved elsewhere, Nanci to Grenoble and Adèle to Vienne, and he paid their families occasional visits in the 1860s. At the same period towards the end of his life he also visited several times his childhood love, Estelle Dubœuf, now Estelle Fornier, first in Lyon, then later in Geneva where she had settled, and for the last time at St Symphorien.
11 December: birth of Hector Berlioz
14 December: Berlioz is baptised in the chapel of the church of St André
17 February: birth of Anne-Marguerite-Louise, known as Nanci, Hector’s sister
29 November: birth of Louise-Julie-Virginie, Hector’s sister
16 April: death
9 May: birth of Adèle-Eugénie, Hector’s sister
(spring) Berlioz takes his first communion
Berlioz meets Estelle Dubœuf, his ‘first passion’, in Meylan (now a suburb of Grenoble)
Berlioz’s earliest attempts at composition
15 December: birth of Louis-Jules-Félix, Hector’s brother
Imbert becomes Berlioz’s music teacher
26 January: Berlioz’s father buys a flute for Berlioz
16 March: Berlioz’s father buys a guitar for Berlioz who begins his lessons on the instrument with his new teacher Dorant
Late March-early April: Berlioz offers his first compositions to publishers
29 May: death of Louis-Jules-Félix, Hector’s brother
26 June: birth of Prosper, Hector’s brother
22 March: Berlioz is made bachelier ès lettres at Grenoble
End of October: Berlioz departs for Paris
Visit to La Côte in the autumn, leaves for Paris on 21 October
Mid-March to 11 May: visit to La Côte, leaves for Paris on 11 May
Beginning of June to 25 July: visit to La Côte, leaves for Paris on 25 July
16 August-7 November: visit to La Côte
Leaves for La Côte on 30 August, returns to Paris where arrives on 27 September
30 December: leaves Paris for La Côte on his way to Italy
3 January: arrives at La Côte
15-23 January: stays in Grenoble
9 February: leaves for Lyon
16 January: Nanci Berlioz (the elder of Hector’s two surviving sisters) marries Camille Pal, a
lawyer in Grenoble
Beginning of June: arrives at La Côte on his return from Italy
End October: leaves La Côte for Paris
7 November: arrives in Paris
18 February: death of Berlioz’s mother
15 January: death of Prosper Berlioz, youngest brother of Hector
2 April: Adèle Berlioz marries Marc Suat
Berlioz visits his father at La Côte (September)
End August to mid October: Berlioz makes a trip to Nice (but does not visit La Côte)
June: trip to Marseille where he gives two concerts (19 and 25 June)
July: visit to Lyon (arrives 4 July)
9 July: Berlioz visits his father at La Côte
20 and 24 July: concerts in Lyon
28 July: Berlioz returns to Paris
8-20 September: Berlioz with his son Louis visits his father at La Côte
March: Berlioz begins the writing of his Memoirs during a stay in
28 July: death at La Côte of Dr Louis Berlioz, Hector’s father
21 August: Berlioz departs for La Côte
ca. 15 September: Berlioz returns to Paris
4 May: death of Nanci, eldest sister of Berlioz
12-25 September: Berlioz goes to La Côte to settle his father’s inheritance
28 Februay-1 March: Berlioz visits his
youngest sister Adèle in Vienne
2 March: death of Adèle
From 4 to ca. 18 September: Berlioz visits Adèle
family in Vienne,
ca. 18-21 September: Berlioz stays with Camille Pal (Nanci’s husband) in Grenoble
22 September: Berlioz goes to Meylan
23 September: Berlioz meets Estelle Fornier in Lyon
During this trip Berlioz also visits friends and acquaintances in Saint-Georges and in Claix
24 September: Berlioz returns to Paris
18-25 August: visit to Estelle Fornier in Geneva
ca. 25-29 August: visit to Camille Pal in Grenoble
29 August-9 September: stays with Adèle’s family in Vienne
15-19 September: visit to Estelle Fornier in Geneva
5 June: death of Louis, Berlioz’s
son, at Havana
ca. 11 August-14 September: visit to Adèle’s family in Vienne
9 September: last visit to Estelle Fornier at St Symphorien
ca. 1-11 March: last trip to Nice, where Berlioz suffers two falls
14-16 August: last visit to Grenoble
8 March: death of Berlioz in Paris
21 June: a memorial plaque is installed on the main wall of Berlioz’s family house at La Côte
Restorations started on the Berlioz family home
28 September: inauguration of the statue of Berlioz by Lenoir in the Esplanade [see below]
15 August: inauguration of the statue of Berlioz by Urbain Basset in the Place Victor Hugo, Grenoble
Madame Dumien donates the Berlioz family home to the Association of the Friends of Berlioz [Association des amis de Berlioz], which in 1962 becomes the Association nationale Hector Berlioz
7 July: inauguration of the Berlioz Museum at La Côte (see below)
For the convenience of visitors to this page, the Berlioz family tree is included here. It is adapted from Pierre Citron’s Calendrier Berlioz (page 138), and shows four generations of the Berlioz family from Hector’s parents to his son, his grand-daughter, and his nieces. We are most grateful to our friend Pierre-René Serna for the information regarding Louis Berlioz’s daughter Clémentine, born in Le Havre around 1854.
We have also collected on another separate page a number of photos of members of Berlioz’s family.
Although Berlioz himself is buried at Paris in the Montmartre cemetery, he remains a living presence in his home town: La Côte Saint-André has honoured the memory of its most famous son in a way that the capital city has not so far matched.
Berlioz’s home town Berlioz’s family lived here for at least three hundred years until the late 19th century.
The Berlioz family home Berlioz was born and brought up here until the age of 18.
Church of St André Berlioz was baptised here.
The Seminary Berlioz received part of his early education here.
Hector Berlioz Museum Berlioz’s parental home was turned to a museum after its last private owner (Madame Dumien) donated it in 1932 to the Association of the Friends of Berlioz, which later became the Association nationale Hector Berlioz.
(See also La Maison de Berlioz à La Côte-Saint-André, by Julien Tiersot, in L’Illustration 20 July 1935 (in French).
Place Hector Berlioz in a ceremony held in 1890 a replica of an original statue of Berlioz by Lenoir was erected here in the composer’s honour.
The inauguration of Berlioz’s statue – the text of the report on the inauguration of Berlioz’s statue at La Côte Saint-André on 28 September 1890 (in English translation).
See also An autograph letter of Édouard Colonne to the Mayor of La Côte Saint-André (20 July 1890), the programme of the inauguration ceremony, and the report (in French) by Julien Tiersot, who travelled to La Côte for the occasion.
The centenary of Berlioz at La Côte Saint-André in 1903: see the report (in French) by Julien Tiersot and An autograph document of Felix Weingartner.
Berlioz signpost and silhouette of Berlioz
The Halles Market a centuries-old timber framed open-air market in where sellers and buyers of agricultural produce and other goods gather on market days.
The Cemetery Berlioz’s parents are buried here.
Le Chuzeau The Berlioz family farm and farm house on the outskirts of La Côte.
La Frette (near La Côte)
Street and road maps These maps show, respectively, the street plan of the town and the main routes from Lyon and Grenoble to La Côte.
Related pages on this site:
Berlioz Mémoires (in the original French)
Berlioz in Meylan
Berlioz in Vienne (Isère)
Letters of the composer’s family at the Hector Berlioz Museum (in French, with introduction in English)
The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel
Austin on 18 July 1997;
Berlioz’s birthplace – La Côte Saint-André pages created on 21 April 1998 and reconstructed on 24 and 29 July 1999. The French version created on 4 August 1999. Both versions completely reorganised on 17 February 2002; substantial additions made since.
© (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on La Côte Saint-André pages. All rights of reproduction reserved.
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