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The Aeolian Harp, from Lélio ou le retour à la vie (H 55)

This page is also available in French

    See also Berlioz Libretti; Berlioz and his music: self-borrowings

    The sequel to the Symphonie Fantastique, first called Le retour à la vie, then on its publication in a revised version in 1855 Lélio ou le retour à la vie, was composed by Berlioz during his compulsory stay in Italy in 1831 as winner of the Prix de Rome of 1830. The music, however, was entirely derived from earlier works. Thus the movement entitled The Aeolian Harp is first known as the final section of Berlioz’s unsuccessful entry for the Prix de Rome of 1827, the cantata La Mort d’Orphée (H 25). The version of this piece in Lélio is substantially that of the earlier cantata, except for some elaboration of the string parts, and the music has also been transposed up a semitone, from A flat to A major. Berlioz had an evident fondness for this evocative piece, which he quotes in full in his Treatise on orchestration in the section on the clarinet (cf. also Memoirs ch. 19 on its rehearsal in May 1828). The instrumental end of the preceding movement, the Song of bliss (for tenor and orchestra), has also been included here to illustrate the adaptation of the melody in this movement.

    Song of bliss (end) (duration 1'2")
    — Score in large format

    The Aeolian Harp (duration 2'10")
    — Score in large format
    (files created on 30.08.2000; revised 23.12.2001)

© Michel Austin for all scores and text on this page.

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