Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 — 8 March 1869) was a French composer, conductor and music critic
of the Romantic Era. An extremely controversial figure
for the direction he took his composition, Berlioz had difficulty having his works performed in France
, the story of which is told colourfully (though with exaggerations) in his Memoirs
. He fared somewhat better abroad as his tours in Germany, Russia and England were relatively successful. Schumann
was enthusiastic about his music, and Liszt
was one of his champions.
A Shakespeare fanboy
, Berlioz wrote several opera based on the Bard's works such as Romeo and Juliet
and Much Ado About Nothing
(under the title Beatrice and Benedict
). His best known work is Symphonie Fantastique
, an early example of programme music, and one of the first examples of a psychedelic symphony.
(Really, the programme to that work mentions a "sensitive artist" who "poisons himself with opium in a fit of despair.")