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Berlioz Music Scores

3 Pieces for Alexandre’s melodium organ (H 98-100)

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    These 3 pieces, composed in November 1844 for the melodium organ (harmonium) developed by his friend the organ-builder Jacob Alexandre (1804-1876), are among Berlioz’s least known works. Performances are extremely rare, and there are few modern recordings (see Berlioz Discography). The atmosphere of rustic devotion of the first two pieces recalls the second part of l’Enfance du Christ; with the first one may also compare the Serenade (3rd movement) of Harold in Italy. Both carry a direct echo of his experiences in Italy in 1831-2, where Berlioz was delighted by the music made by the so-called ‘pifferari’ in Rome and the mountains of the Abruzzi. The 3rd piece, on the other hand, is hardly characteristic of the composer.

    Berlioz devoted a chapter to the melodium in his Treatise on Instrumentation and Orchestration, where he discusses the technical characteristics of the instrument and its expressive possibilities. He says in particular: ‘As the sounds of the melodium are somewhat slow in production, they are more suitable for the legato style than any other, very appropriate for religious music, with gentle and tender melodies in a slow tempo’ (the full text of the passage is available on this site).

    There are no metronome marks in Berlioz’s score. Tempi have been set as follows. 1st piece, andantino, dotted crotchet = 52; allegro assai, dotted crotchet = 96. 2nd piece, crotchet = 69. 3rd piece, minim = 60.

    1. Rustic Serenade to the Virgin on the theme of the Roman pifferari (duration 2'52")
    — Score in large format

    2. Hymn for the Elevation (duration 4'22")
    — Score in large format

    3. Toccata (duration 2'19")
    — Score in large format

     (files created on 26.04.2000; revised 22.10.2001)

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

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