For the 150th anniversary of Hector Berlioz’s death, conductor Lahav Shani leads the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in the Symphonie fantastique.
Described by the composer as an “instrumental drama” and subtitled “Episode in the Life of an Artist”, this major work is heavily inspired by the life of the composer. Hector Berlioz fell madly in love with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson and wrote the symphony in an attempt to prove himself to her. The powerfully expressive work is divided into 5 acts in which a young musician, in love with an ideal(ized) woman, realizes his passion and dives into an opium-spiked dream. After a ball scene and a pastoral scene, where the beauty reappears, the lover dreams that he kills her. In the last tableau, he takes part in his own funeral at the witching hour. Celebrated for its audaciousness and criticized for its excesses, this Symphonie fantastique is today recognized as an essential piece of the international repertoire with incredible influence on Liszt, Wagner, Richard Strauss, and many others greats of music history!
Photo: Lahav Shani © Oded Antman
Leonidas Kavakos appears courtesy of SONY CLASSICAL.