"the first psychedelic symphony in history"
Unrequited love and burning desire: banal and commonplace, but oh, so crucial for many artists. And so it was that an unattainable actress became the ideal muse for Hector Berlioz: she inspired him to create the most influential symphonic works in music history, Episode de la vie d'un Artiste... en cinq parties Op. 14, subtitled Symphonie Fantastique.
An intensely personal work about a sensitive young artist – who was rejected by the woman of his dreams.
A fatal dose of opium was meant to put an end to the protagonist’s heartbreak, but instead the drugs took him on a journey through hallucinations and dreams, and ultimately made him believe that he had murdered his beloved. Berlioz tells the story right down to the tiniest detail, and renders words unnecessary thanks to his masterful music.
“Pretty spooky stuff. And it's spooky because those sounds you're hearing come from the first psychedelic symphony in history, the first musical description ever made of a trip, written one hundred thirty odd years before the Beatles, way back in 1830.”
- Leonard Bernstein
Concerto pour piano et orchestre n°2 en sol mineur, op. 22
soloist: Nicholas Angelich, piano
Symphonie fantastique, op. 14
The color, fire, narrative arc, vulgarity, descriptiveness, and drug-induced hysteria of Symphonie Fantastique put it in a class of its own in the classical music world.listen to the podcast
Watch the legendary TV episode of New York Philharmonic Young People's Concertswith Leonard Bernstein, featuring the Symphonie Fantastique.
Berlioz knew audiences well; he provided a title for each of his five movements and wrote a detailed program note to tell the story behind the music.read the full notes