1305 Symphonie Fantastique: An Episode in the Life of an Artist, Opus 14
Symphonie Fantastique: An Episode in the Life of an Artist, Opus 14, is one of the landmark programmed works of the early Romantic era.
Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelic drugs because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature. Also the symphony suggests that Hector Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium.
According to Bernstein, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip and you wind up screaming at your own funeral.”
This work first interested Ken when he was 15 years old. Ken liked the erratic nature of the rhythms and the offbeat syncopated passages. He also loved Berlioz’s description of what music should be like when he appeared in court to defend his compositions. Berlioz testified that music was meant to be felt and not just heard. Ken is sure many of today’s rock and roll musicians can also agree with Berlioz.
“Many years ago, I vowed that I would never conduct a work using period instruments, because I just couldn’t see the need other than a curiosity factor to the concert listener.
However, once I was able to get hold of the original 1830 score to this work and after many of the orchestra musicians related to me that they had period instruments, well, I thought this might be a noble experiment in sound and not just a curiosity piece for the listener.
I wanted to make this piece exciting and it took all of the virtuosity of the orchestra musicians to pull this off as I was quite demanding of the sound I wanted to produce.
After listening, I hope you will agree with me.”
So here is Symphonie Fantastique, Opus 14 by Hector Berlioz as performed by the CMD German Opera Orchestra of Berlin and conducted by Kenneth Hedgecock.