Thursday, 21 January 2016

Berlioz Continued

I would have said more about Berlioz yesterday, but a couple of friends dropped in for a whisky (or two, or three), so it had to wait.

Berlioz’s memoirs are as interesting as his music. When a centime-less music student, he fell in love with Harriet Smithson, a little red-haired Irish actress in a visiting troupe of Shakespeare players, and proposed to her. With the gratuitous heartless cruelty of her sex she laughed at him; with the petulant hurt pride of his he told her that one day he would win the Prix Du Rome and become France’s greatest composer, and then she would be sorry.

He won the Prix Du Rome and became France’s greatest composer, and she was sorry. He proposed to her again, and this time she accepted him. It would be nice to add “And they lived happily ever after,” but I’m afraid they didn’t.

More later, unless I happen to come across something even more interesting to write about. (The discovery of a new planet doesn’t do much for me; the discovery of a new Bach manuscript might.)

Here are Hector Berlioz and Harriet Smithson:


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