The Hector Berlioz Website


Illustrated London News, 3 April 1869

    Berlioz died on 8 March 1869. On 3rd April the Illustrated London News published a second obituary (the first one appeared on 13 March). We have reproduced here this obituary and the accompanying engraving from our own original copy of the ILN. As the reader will note, the obituary is brief and general, and rather vague on chronology: for example, Berlioz became assistant librarian of the Conservatoire in 1839, then full librarian in 1850; he was elected to the Institut in 1856.


Illustrated London News



The death of Hector Berlioz, a French musical composer of some celebrity, though his operas have not been popular of late, was announced a week or two since. He was born in 1803, and began life as a medical student, being the son of a country physician; but he had shown from his earliest infancy an extraordinary talent for music, and he soon quitted the professional studies for which his father had sent him to Paris. The young man, being therefore discarded by his family, was obliged to earn his livelihood as a chorus singer in the theatre while he attended the classes of Lesueur and Reicha at the Conservatoire. He composed a mass, which was performed with applause. He soon afterwards gained the “prix de Rome,” and went to Italy for two years. On his return to Paris, about 1833, he devoted himself to the composition of symphonies and operas, in a style which was highly original, and different from that most in fashion at the time. Liszt and Paganini freely acknowledged his genius, and their approval consoled him for the adverse criticisms of some of his countrymen. Paganini did more, generously presenting the young composer, who was needy, with the sum of 20,000f., to enable him to hold out against public neglect. This example turned the tide in favour of Berlioz, who was soon afterwards elected a member of the Academy, and subsequently appointed librarian of the Conservatoire. He appeared in London, in 1855, as one of the conductors of the New Philharmonic Society’s Concerts. In Germany and in Russia his works are more admired than in France; they are remarkable for grand orchestral combinations and effects, particularly the overtures to some of his operas, which are little known in England, besides his funeral marches and requiems. Berlioz was also a writer of musical critiques and commentaries for the Journal des Débats, which have been reprinted in several volumes.

The Portrait is engraved from a photograph by M. Nadar, who is well known both as a scientific aeronaut and a photographic artist.

Hector Berlioz

The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; this page created on 8 March 2008.

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

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