program notes - Quad City Symphony

program notes - Quad City Symphony

Quad City Symphony Orchestra PROGRAM NOTES Masterworks I: Postcards from Paris By Jacob Bancks GEORGE GERSHWIN An American in Paris Instrumentation:...

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Quad City Symphony Orchestra

PROGRAM NOTES

Masterworks I: Postcards from Paris By Jacob Bancks GEORGE GERSHWIN An American in Paris Instrumentation: 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, celesta, 3 saxophones, and strings. Premiere: December 13, 1928 by the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York (the New York Philharmonic), Walter Damrosch conducting, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY. First QCSO performance: 1948. Most recent QCSO performance: 2007. Though his art occupies a central place in the history of American concert music, during his life George Gershwin (1898-1937) moved in artistic circles as something of a fish out of water. His earliest musical experiences were not with classical music, but rather showtunes and popular songs.As a teenager he worked in a music store as a “song-plugger”, a job that required him to sit at a piano and play whichever pieces of sheet music were under consideration by the store’s patrons. This experience must have cultivated in him a sense for what listeners find most attractive or compelling (he understood, quite literally, what “sells”), but it was a long climb from lowly song-plugger to major composer. Certainly he achieved this goal by the end of his short life, but early in his career he seems to have been often frustrated in his desire to join the classical music mainstream. His outsider status is illustrated well by the anecdotes that surround his requests during the twenties for composition lessons from the leading lights of the time. Famed Parisian pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, who taught musicians as diverse as Aaron

Copland, Quincy Jones, and Charles Strouse (of Annie fame), declined to accept Gershwin as a composition student, as did Maurice Ravel. Ravel echoed the respect many musicians held for Gershwin’s unique gifts by asking, “Why become a secondrate Ravel when you are already a first-rate Gershwin?” Perhaps Ravel was suggesting that Gershwin confine his aspirations to jazz and popular music, where he had already demonstrated so much promise. And perhaps the young composer came away from these encounters convinced that if he made it in the concert music world, it would have to be as an expatriate. It is no surprise, then, that Gershwin’s most memorable concert work from this period is all about a foreigner. Composer-critic Deems Taylor, who wrote the program notes for the premiere of An American in Paris, strongly implies that the various adventures described in the work are from Gershwin’s own experience. According to Taylor, the composer aimed “to tell an emotional narrative; to convey, in terms of sound, the successive emotional reactions experienced by a Yankee tourist adrift in the City of Light.” He then describes the work’s broad formal sections and names its main themes, and includes some amusing innuendo about the hero’s possible indiscretions abroad. “And by the way, whatever became of that lad Volstead?” Taylor asks, naming the congressional representative responsible for the American prohibition laws then in effect. The piece is broadly divided into three large sections. The first, marked “allegretto grazioso” (moderately fast, gracefully), begins with a lilting, grace-note punctuated theme in the oboe and violins amid constantly-fluctuating sounds of the city. In this section Gershwin constructs his tunes from very short, repeating motives which he then recycles as accompanimental figures and later in ever-more-dizzying juxtapositions, adding to the hectic cityscape. Though a latecomer to the art of orchestration (he hired someone else to orchestrate Rhapsody in Blue), this passage demonstrates his skill for constructing brilliant, Hol-

lywood-ready orchestral textures and balancing conventional scoring with Vaudeville novelties (including, of course, those car horns). He also pays careful attention to phrase-rhythm, deftly varying familiar 4- and 8-bar phrases with more unconventional groupings, especially the brash 5-measure interjections of the trombones and strings that herald the section’s conclusion. A slower middle section is ushered in by a sultry violin solo accompanied by the celesta (Taylor, winking at his readers, explained that this solo, “in the soprano register” was speaking to the hero “in the most charming broken English”). The piece’s most important central theme, first presented as a Bluesy trumpet solo, stands in stark contrasts to the opening themes in its long line and lack of short, repetitive motives. To further amplify this passage’s jazz flavor, the piece’s three saxophones, silent in the work’s opening sections, finally make their entrance. According to Taylor this middle section represents the hero’s melancholy, which eventually overtakes him. “He realizes suddenly, overwhelmingly, that he does not belong to this place, that he is the most wretched creature in all the world, a foreigner.” Another violin solo (echoed in an arguably less-seductive tuba solo) concludes the middle section. The opening lilt returns for a much shorter, less wandering recapitulation of the piece’s opening section, which swells into a grand Largo climax and a genuine Hollywood ending. Given its enduring popularity and broad cultural influence, An American in Paris is arguably the most far-reaching and consequential work in American concert music, comparable only to Rhapsody in Blue, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Bernstein’s West Side Story. Like Gershwin himself, it winsomely engages with congenial elements of European culture, but also displays a naïve love of the fatherland. “The world is just what he longs for,” wrote Taylor of Gershwin’s hero, “the world that he knows best; a world less lovely­—sentimental and a little vulgar perhaps—but for all that, home.”

GIACOMO PUCCINI Excerpts from Act One of La Bohème Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones (4th on bass trombone), timpani, percussion, harp, and strings. Premiere: February 1, 1896, Arturo Toscanini conducting, Teatro Regio, Turin, Italy. First and most recent QCSO performances: 1949 (“O soave fanciulla” only) and 1999 (“Quando m’en vo” only). Aside from the car horns and bustling streets (which he could get plenty of, after all, in his native New York), certainly a great part of what intrigued Gershwin about Paris was a chance to experience la vie bohème, “the bohemian life”—a term referring, of course, not to natives of Bohemia, but rather to free spirits who live outside conventional norms, often in abject poverty. Particularly associated with Paris’s Latin Quarter, the label has been applied to non-conformists in many societies: hippies, beatniks, punks, and hipsters are all, in their own way, different versions of the bohemian prototype. This was a way of life with which Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) had firsthand, if brief, experience. In childhood he lived a relatively secure and conventional life: like the Bach, Mozart and Beethoven families, the Puccinis had served in an official capacity as cathedral musicians for generations. However, as a student at the Milan Conservatory his income was meager and he later recalled scrounging for meals with friends. Regardless of whether his own experience of bohemian life was more about the poverty and less about the free living, he would draw on these experiences when composing La Bohème several years after experiencing commercial success. Just decades prior, the idea that an opera’s plot would dovetail with a composer’s lived experience would strike most observ-

ers as odd. For centuries, opera was mainly about gods and goddesses, mythic heroes, and imaginary bird catchers. With the 1890 premiere of his opera Cavalleria Rusticana (“Rustic Chivalry”), composer Pietro Mascagni intiated what would become a revolution in Italian opera: so-called verismo (“realist”) operas generally excluded aristocratic characters, being set instead within the common lives of ordinary people.Though the verismo plots were, like most operas, intensely dramatic (a jealous clown commits murder in the public square, for example, as in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci), unlike most of their predecessors, they eschewed myths, magic, and the supernatural. The combination of these various factors resulted in a visceral, personal, and highly emotional experience for audiences. The action of La Bohème centers on a group of poets, painters, and musicians living in the Latin Quarter, and the romantic lives of two in particular: the writer Rodolfo, who falls in love with the beautiful but sickly seamstress Mimì, and the painter Marcello, who courts the self-reliant singer Musetta. The scene performed in this concert takes place in the bohemians’ shared apartment on Christmas Eve. Rodolfo is alone, searching for poetic inspiration when a stranger arrives from a nearby apartment. She turns out to be Mimì, just the inspiration Rodolfo has been looking for. Note throughout the informal, conversational dialogue; these are far more casual and “realistic” than the highly formalized recitatives of prior traditions; Puccini offsets these relaxed interchanges with more traditional aria passages for the individual characters. Note also how the orchestra contributes to the drama, which provides a window into the emotional state of both characters.

TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS (Rodolfo sits at the table, and makes the effort to write. He later becomes impatient, and destroys what he has written, and tosses the pen to one side.) RODOLFO Non sono in vena I have no inspiration. (A timid knock at the door is heard.) Chi è là? Who is there? MIMÌ’S VOICE (from outside) Excuse me please.

Scusi. Una donna!

RODOLFO (raising himself) A woman!

MIMÌ’S VOICE Di grazia, mi si è spento il lume. Please, my candle has extinguished. Ecco.

RODOLFO (He runs to open the door.) Here!

MIMÌ (On the doorstep, with an extinguished candle in one hand and a key in the other) Vorrebbe? Would you? RODOLFO S’accomodi un momento. Do come in for a moment. Non occorre. La prego, entri.

MIMÌ It is not necessary. RODOLFO (insisting) I beg you, come in.

(Mimì enters, but her breathing suddenly turns to gasps.) Si sente male?

RODOLFO (thoughtful) Are you unwell?

No... nulla. Impallidisce! Il respir... Quelle scale...

MIMÌ No... it’s nothing. RODOLFO You look so pallid! MIMÌ I’m breathless... it’s those stairs....

(She faints, and Rodolfo hardly has time to support her. He carefully lays her down on a chair. Meanwhile from the hands of Mimì the candlestick and key fall.) RODOLFO (embarrassed) Ed ora come faccio?... What do I do? (He fetches a little water and splashes some on Mimì’s face.) Così! There! Che viso d’ammalata. How ill she looks. (Mimì regains consciousness.) Si sente meglio? Do you feel better? Sì.

MIMÌ Yes.

RODOLFO Qui c’è tanto freddo. It’s very cold in here. Segga vicino al fuoco. Sit closer to the fire. Aspetti... un po’ di vino? One moment... a little wine? Grazie...

MIMÌ Thank you.



A lei.

RODOLFO (He gives the glass to her and pours her a drink.) For you.

Poco, poco. Così? Grazie.

MIMÌ Just a little, just a little. RODOLFO So? MIMÌ Thank you. (She drinks.)

RODOLFO (to himself) Che bella bambina! What a lovely young woman! MIMÌ Ora permetta che accenda Now if you wouldn’t mind lightil lume. È tutto passato. ing my candle. I’m better now. Tanta fretta?

RODOLFO So much haste?

MIMÌ Sì. Yes. (Rodolfo notices the candlestick on the floor, picks it up, lights the candle and gives it to Mimì without a word.) Grazie. Buona sera.

MIMÌ Thank you and good evening. (She leaves.)

RODOLFO (accompanying her to the door) Buona sera. Good evening. (He returns to his work.)

Oh! sventata, sventata! La chiave della stanza dove l’ho lasciata?

MIMÌ (returning) Oh! dear, how thoughtless of me! Where can I have left the key to my room?

RODOLFO Non stia sull’uscio; il Don’t stand in the doorway; your lume vacilla al vento. candle is wavering in the draft. (Mimì’s candle goes out once again.) RODOLFO (He runs over with his candle, but as he gets close to the door it goes out.) Oh Dio!... Anche il mio s’è Oh God!... My own has gone spento! out now! MIMÌ Ah! Ah! E la chiave ove sarà?... Where can I have lost my key? (Rodolfo closes the door.) Buio pesto! Disgraziata! Ove sarà?

RODOLFO Pitch-black! MIMÌ Oh, how unfortunate! RODOLFO Where can it be?

MIMÌ (She cautiously advances.) Importuna è la vicina... What an annoying neighbor I am! RODOLFO (turning towards Mimì’s voice) Ma le pare?... What’s that?

Importuna è la vicina...

MIMÌ What an annoying neighbor I am!

RODOLFO (Searching the floor for the key with his feet.) Cosa dice, ma le pare! What? No, not at all! Cerchi. Cerco. Ove sarà?...

MIMÌ Help me look. RODOLFO I’ll look. MIMÌ Where can it be?

RODOLFO (finding the key and putting it in his pocket) Ah! Ah! L’ha trovata?... No! Mi parve... In verità...

MIMÌ Is it found? RODOLFO No! MIMÌ It seemed to me... RODOLFO In truth, no...

Cerca.

MIMÌ Please look.

Cerco!

RODOLFO I’m looking!

(Pretending to search and guided by the voice and footsteps of Mimì, Rodolfo moves towards her, head bowed, hoping to touch her. Suddenly he finds himself close to Mimì, and their hands meet.) Ah!

MIMÌ (surprised) Ah!

RODOLFO (Holding Mimì’s hand in a voice that’s full of emotion!) Che gelida manina This little hand is frozen, Se la lasci riscaldar. let me warm it here in mine. Cercar che giova? What’s the use in searching? Al buio non si trova. It’s far too dark to find it. Ma per fortuna But by our good fortune, è una notte di luna, it’s a night lit by the moon, e qui la luna and up here the moon l’abbiamo vicina. is our closest of neighbors. (Mimì tries to withdraw her hand.) Aspetti, signorina, One moment, mademoiselle, le dirò con due parole let me tell you in just two chi son, e che faccio, words, who I am, what I do, come vivo.Vuole? and how I live. Shall I? (Mimì says nothing: Rodolfo lets go of Mimì’s hand. Full of emotion she reaches back for a chair upon which to drop.) Chi son? Sono un poeta. Che cosa faccio? Scrivo. E come vivo? Vivo! In povertà mia lieta scialo da gran signore rime ed inni d’amore. Per sogni e per chimere e per castelli in aria, l’anima ho milionaria. Talor dal mio forziere

Who am I? I am a poet. What do I do here? I write. And how do I live? I live in my contented poverty, as if a grand lord, I squander odes and hymns of love. In my dreams and reveries, I build castles in the air, where in spirit I am a millionaire. Yet sometimes from my safe,

ruban tutti i gioelli due ladri, gli occhi belli. V’entrar con voi pur ora, ed i miei sogni usati e i bei sogni miei, tosto si dileguar! Ma il furto non m’accora, poiché, v’ha preso stanza la dolce speranza! Or che mi conoscete, parlate voi, deh! Parlate. Chi siete? Vi piaccia dir!

all my gems are stolen by two thieves, a pair of eyes. They entered with you just now! Now all past dreams are gone, Beautiful dreams I’ve cherished, immediately vanished! But the theft does not wound me, because they are replaced by sweet hope! Now you know about me. Will you tell me who you are? Will you say? Please do tell!

MIMÌ (She is a little hesitant, then decides to speak; sitting throughout.) Sì, Mi chiamano Mimì, Yes, they always called me Mimì, ma il mio nome è Lucia. but my real name is Lucia. La storia mia è breve: This story of mine is brief: a tela o a seta To linen and silk I embroider, ricamo in casa e fuori... at my home or away... Son tranquilla e lieta I have a quiet but happy life, ed è mio svago and my pasttime far gigli e rose. is making lillies and roses. Mi piaccion quelle cose I delight in these pleasures. che han sì dolce malìa, These have such sweet charm, che parlano d’amor, they speak of love, di primavere, of Spring, di sogni e di chimere, of dreams and visions, and quelle cose che han nome the things that have poetic poesia... Lei m’intende? names. Do you understand? Si. Mi chiamano Mimì,

RODOLFO Yes. MIMÌ They always call me Mimì,

il perchè non so. I know not why! Sola, mi fo All alone il pranzo da me stessa. I make myself dinner. Non vado sempre a messa, I don’t attend Mass often, ma prego assai il Signore. but I pray often to the Lord. Vivo sola, soletta I live by myself, all alone, là in una bianca cameretta: in my little white room. guardo sui tetti e in cielo; I look upon the roofs and sky. ma quando vien lo sgelo But when the thaw comes, il primo sole è mio the first warmth of the sun is il primo bacio dell’aprile è mio! mine, the first kiss of April is mine. Germoglia in un vaso una rosa... In a vase a rosebud blooms, Foglia a foglia la spio! I watch as petal by petal unfolds, Cosi gentile il profumo with its delicate fragrance d’un fiore! of a flower! Ma i fior ch’io faccio, But the flowers I sew, Ahimè! non hanno odore. Alas! have no fragrance. Altro di me non le There’s nothing more I can saprei narrare. tell you about myself. Sono la sua vicina I am your neighbor, who che la vien fuori knocks at your door so late d’ora a importunare. disturbing you importunately. (From the open window the moon shines into the room.) O soave fanciulla,... O dolce viso di mite circonfuso alba lunar in te, vivo ravviso il sogno ch’io vorrei sempre sognar!

RODOLFO Oh, beautiful maiden,... Oh, how sweet your face, its beauty softly kissed by the gentle moonlight. In you, sweet maiden, I see the dreams of love I have dreamt about forever.

(He encircles Mimì in his arms.)

MIMÌ (much affected) Ah! tu sol comandi, amor! Ah! Guide us, Love! RODOLFO Fremon già nell’anima Such sweet love invades my soul. le dolcezze estreme, I feel such joy, and love so tender. nel bacio freme amor! Our kisses tremble with love. MIMÌ (much affected) Ah! tu sol comandi, amor! Ah! Guide us, Love! (almost letting go) Oh! come dolci scendono His gentle sweet words dele sue lusinghe al core... light me, as they flatter my tu sol comandi, amore! heart. Guide us, Love! (Rodolfo kisses Mimì, who frees herself.) No, per pietà! No, I beg you! RODOLFO You’re mine now.

Sei mia! V’aspettan gli amici... Già mi mandi via?

MIMÌ Your friends are waiting. RODOLFO You’re sending me away so soon?

MIMÌ (hesitant) Vorrei dir... ma non oso... I’d like to say... but dare not... Di’

RODOLFO (with gentility) Speak!

MIMÌ (with graceful cunning) Se venissi con voi? What if I came with you? Che?... Mimì!

RODOLFO (surprised) What?... Mimì!

(insinuating) Sarebbe così dolce restar qui. It would be nice if we could C’è freddo fuori. stay here. Outside it’s cold. MIMÌ (with great abandonment) Vi starò vicina!... I’ll stay close by you. E al ritorno?

RODOLFO And when we return? MIMÌ (mischievously) Wait and find out!

Curioso!

RODOLFO (he tenderly assists Mimì with her shawl) Dammi il braccio, mia piccina. Take my arm, my little one. MIMÌ (giving her arm to Rodolfo) Obbedisco, signor! Sir, I’ll do as you say. (Arm in arm they start towards the door.) Che m’ami di’... Io t’amo!

RODOLFO Tell me you love me! MIMÌ (with abandonment) I love you!

(They leave.) MIMÌ & RODOLFO (from outside) Amor! Amor! Amor! Love! Love! Love!

HECTOR BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 Instrumentation: 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (one doubling English horn), 2 clarinets (one doubling E-flat clarinet), 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas (originally ophicleides), 2 timpani, percussion, and strings. Premiere: December 5, 1830, François-Antoine Habeneck conducting, Paris Conservatory, Paris, France. First QCSO performance: 1964. Most recent QCSO performance: 2005. As anyone might suspect, things do not end well for Rodolfo and Mimi, the lovers in La Bohème. Various jealous outbursts, separations, and infidelities presage Mimì’s springtime death by consumption in Act 4. Here Puccini again wrote from experience: in addition to la vie bohème, romantic tragedy was also a part of his own life, as (it turns out) it has been for many composers over the centuries. This past Tuesday, October 3, would have been the 184th wedding anniversary of French composer Hector Berlioz (18031869) and Irish actress Harriet Smithson. Putting it mildly, this marriage was deeply troubled; they separated nine years after marrying and never reconciled. Certainly a large part of the reason their marriage failed had to do with their bizarre and tumultuous courtship. The entire episode began at an 1827 performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Paris, where Smithson performed as another ill-fated heroine, Ophelia. From the audience, Berlioz was lovestruck, and an obsession was born. Over the next three years, the composer pursued Smithson insatiably, writing her dozens of letters and even moving to an apartment where he could watch (today we might say “stalk”) her closely. To a beautiful and famous actress, such extravagant (today we might say “creepy”) signs of devotion must have been relatively common,

and Smithson showed no signs of interest in the composer. Only after she heard, a full two years after its premiere, the symphony he had composed to impress her, did she finally acknowledge his existence, and the two were married a year later, in 1833. Actual marriage proved far more difficult for Berlioz than both composing and courting; in truth, no one could have lived up to the exalted image of Smithson that Berlioz had constructed for himself during his years of infatuation. Though their union did not survive, the massive symphony that Berloiz wrote to gain Smithson’s affection did. Called Symphonie Fantastique, this work has become one of the most important and influential orchestral works in history; born in the first third of the nineteenth century, its orchestration, dramatic flavor, and sheer size would prove enormously popular with symphonic audiences and influential on other composers, especially Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Though Berlioz greatly admired Beethoven (who died six months before Smithson’s fateful performance of Hamlet), the French composer’s approach to writing a symphony stands in stark contrast to the German master’s. As a son of the German Alfklärung, Beethoven saw the symphony as an enlightening genre. His “extramusical” themes, when stated, were always abstract, and always ennobling: the life of a great hero, the battle of a soul against fate, the simple glories of country life, the coming brotherhood of all humanity. Beyond these broad themes, Beethoven worked out his motivic ideas (often only a few notes long in themselves) carefully and methodically, in a sense both instructing and inspiring his audience. In contrast, Berlioz was a fully a son of the nineteenth century, caring less for his listener’s spiritual elevation than for giving voice to his personal obsessions. Like Beethoven in his Symphony No. 5, Berlioz traced all of Symphonie Fantastique to a single motive, but whereas Beethoven’s was an infinitely simple,

2-measure motive, Berlioz’s is 40 measures long (printed, in its initial form, on the back of this program booklet). Borrowing a term from the burgeoning field of psychology, Berlioz called this melody his idée fixe (“fixed idea”), literally a musical representation of his obsession. Finding the various manifestations of this melody in its many contexts is one of the joys of listening to this work. Below are the original program notes to Symphonie Fantastique, in keeping with Berlioz’s expressed desire that all audiences hearing this work read them first (he considered these notes “indispensable for a complete understanding of the dramatic plan of the work,” and from this we gained the term “program” or “programmatic” music, that is, music which relies on something outside itself, like a story, painting, or idea, to be understood. NOTE The composer’s intention has been to develop various episodes in the life of an artist, in so far as they lend themselves to musical treatment. As the work cannot rely on the assistance of speech, the plan of the instrumental drama needs to be set out in advance. The following programme must therefore be considered as the spoken text of an opera, which serves to introduce musical movements and to motivate their character and expression. Part one: Daydreams, passions The author imagines that a young musician, afflicted by the sickness of spirit which a famous writer has called the vagueness of passions (le vague des passions), sees for the first time a woman who unites all the charms of the ideal person his imagination was dreaming of, and falls desperately in love with her. By a strange anomaly, the beloved image never presents itself to the artist’s mind without being associated with a musical idea, in which he recognises a certain quality of passion, but endowed with the nobility and shyness which he credits to the object of his love. This melodic image and its model keep haunting him ceaselessly like a

double idée fixe. This explains the constant recurrence in all the movements of the symphony of the melody which launches the first allegro. The transitions from this state of dreamy melancholy, interrupted by occasional upsurges of aimless joy, to delirious passion, with its outbursts of fury and jealousy, its returns of tenderness, its tears, its religious consolations – all this forms the subject of the first movement. Part two: A ball The artist finds himself in the most diverse situations in life, in the tumult of a festive party, in the peaceful contemplation of the beautiful sights of nature, yet everywhere, whether in town or in the countryside, the beloved image keeps haunting him and throws his spirit into confusion. Part three: Scene in the countryside One evening in the countryside he hears two shepherds in the distance dialoguing with their ‘ranz des vaches’; this pastoral duet, the setting, the gentle rustling of the trees in the wind, some causes for hope that he has recently conceived, all conspire to restore to his heart an unaccustomed feeling of calm and to give to his thoughts a happier colouring. He broods on his loneliness, and hopes that soon he will no longer be on his own… But what if she betrayed him!… This mingled hope and fear, these ideas of happiness, disturbed by dark premonitions, form the subject of the adagio. At the end one of the shepherds resumes his ‘ranz des vaches’; the other one no longer answers. Distant sound of thunder… solitude… silence… Part four: March to the scaffold Convinced that his love is spurned, the artist poisons himself with opium. The dose of narcotic, while too weak to cause his death, plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by the strangest of visions. He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned, led to the scaffold and is witnessing his own execution. The procession advances to the sound of a march that is sometimes sombre and wild, and sometimes brilliant and solemn, in which a dull sound of heavy footsteps follows without transition the loudest outbursts. At the end of the march, the first four bars of the idée fixe reappear like a final thought of love interrupted by the fatal blow.

Part five: Dream of a witches’ sabbath He sees himself at a witches’ sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.

Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, first instance of the “idée fixe”