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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Symphonie Fantastique

One of my favorite pieces of music is Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

First we start with the oh-so sweet and tender "Reveries and Passions", which introduces our hapless hero and the "idee fixee" (the "perfect" woman who invades his thoughts and his dreams.) Here, there's sweetness and innocence:

 Then, Movement Two:"A Ball Our artist finds himself at a dance. Among his reverie, his "idee fixee" interrupts his passion and excitement, replacing it with contemplation and longing. He is alone in a crowd. It does, get a bit bizarre. We present: FORESHADOWING

 Movement 3: Scene In the Fields: Our hapless artist finds himself enjoying a nice day in the country.

 Ah, but trouble beckons, trouble beckons. Movement 4: March to the Scaffold Say this in a deep, somber tone: "In the dark of night, he dreams he has killed her, and he walks to his death."

Movement 5: "The Witches'  Sabbath"...  the executed artist attends an unholy orgy. please note that "orgy" doesn't just mean a conglomeration of horny people, copulating. Orgy in this sense means Word History: The word orgy has become connected in the minds of many of us with unrestrained sexual activity, but its origins are much less licentious. We can trace the word as far back as the Indo-European root *werg-, meaning "to do," also the source of our word work. Greek orgia, "secret rites, worship," comes from *worg-, one form of this root. The Greek word was used with reference to the rites practiced in the worship of various deities, such as Orpheus and Dionysus. The word in Greek did not denote sexual activity, although this was a part of some rites. The rites of Dionysus, for example, included only music, dancing, drinking, and the eating of animal sacrifices. Having passed through Latin and Old French into English, the word orgy is first recorded in English with reference to the secret rites of the Greek and Roman religions in 1589. It is interesting to note that the word is first recorded with its modern sense in 18th-century English and perhaps in 17th-century French. Whether this speaks to a greater licentiousness in society or not must be left to the historian, but certainly the religious nature of the word has gone into eclipse.(From http://www.thefreedictionary.com)

The love of his life has become tainted, mocking, and lost her innocence

*Note: the Symphonie Fantastique can be described as a drug addled (namely, opium-induced) nightmare. Hector Berlioz was in love with an actress, Harriet Smithson. The actress did not return his love, at first.  but knew the Symphonie Fantastique had been written for her. They did marry, but unhappily, and it ended in divorce.

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