At the Hector Berlioz Museum
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In May 2016 appeared an important volume containing a wealth of new information on Berlioz, including new letters of the composer: Nouvelles lettres de Berlioz, de sa famille, de ses contemporains, ed. Peter Bloom, Joël-Marie Fauquet, Hugh J. Macdonald and Cécile Reynaud, Actes Sud/Palazzetto Bru Zane. 792 pages. ISBN 978-2-330-06255-2. This volume, the result of years of work, represents a major contribution to the Berlioz bibliography and will be an indispensable resource for all students of Berlioz.
The work cites frequently, in part or whole, letters of the composer’s family, some of which are at the Hector Berlioz Museum and which we published on this site on 11 December 2014 under the title of Letters of the composer’s family at the Hector Berlioz Museum, a publication undertaken at the invitation of the Museum’s curators. The work does not give references to our publication and does not mention it explicitly, but cites occasionally a book by Pascal Beyls, La correspondance de la collection Catherine Reboul-Berlioz. Retranscription par Pascal Beyls. Grenoble 2014. ISBN 2-979-10-90858-03-9. This book appeared shortly before our own publication (the dépot légal is dated to the 4th quarter of 2014), but we were not able to see a copy of it until the following year. One example is the letter of Berlioz’s sister Adèle Suat of 23 June 1856 congratulating him on his election to the Institut (no 2141undecies in Nouvelles lettres). We do not of course question M. Beyls’ right to publish his work, which is based on copies of letters in the Reboul collection made by him while they were in his possession before being deposited by him at the Museum in 2011. The book calls nevertheless for a number of comments.
First, it was written and published by M. Beyls without the knowledge of the Hector Berlioz Museum, who were neither consulted nor informed. The Museum’s name appears nowhere in the title of the book, whether on the cover or inside, and no one is thanked in the Introduction. The copy that was presented to the Museum was handed over not by the author in person but through an intermediary.
Second, the book consists only of an edited transcription of the letters, following the sequence of the Museum’s inventory; there is no commentary, analysis or explanatory notes, and no index.
Third, the copy which we have seen at the Museum states that only 8 copies of the book have been printed by the author: 3 have gone to libraries (the Hector Berlioz Museum, the Bibliothèque municipale de Grenoble and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris), the remaining 5 to the author. The author’s own website does not list this book among his publications, and it is not offered for sale by him. As far as the vast majority of interested readers is concerned, the book is in practice virtually unobtainable.
The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb
and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997.
The pages Letters of the composer’s family were created on 11 December 2014; this page added on 2 June 2016.
© Michel Austin and Monir Tayeb
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