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The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz (Everyman's Library (Cloth)) Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Everyman's Library (Cloth)
  • Hardcover: 709 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (March 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037541391X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz has long been considered to be among the best of musical autobiographies.

Like his massive compositions, Berlioz (1803-69) was colorful, eloquent, larger than life. His book is both an account of his important place in the rise of the Romantic movement and a personal testament. He tells the story of his liaison with Harriet Smithson, and his even more passionate affairs of the mind with Shakespeare, Scott, and Byron. Familiar with all the great figures of the age, Berlioz paints brilliant portraits of Liszt, Wagner, Balzac, Weber, and Rossini, among others. And through Berlioz's intimate and detailed self-revelation, there emerges a profoundly sympathetic and attractive man, driven, finally, by his overwhelming creative urges to a position of lonely eminence.

For this new Everyman's edition of The Memoirs, the translator--the composer's most admired biographer--has completely revised the text and the extensive notes to take into account the latest research.

About the Author

David Cairns, author of the highly acclaimed biography Berlioz, has been music critic of the Spectator, The Evening Standard, The New Statesman, and The Sunday Times (London).

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Customer Reviews

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The book flows better if you skim over that part.
B. Green
In the meantime, I hope that these brief comments serve to whet your appetite for one of the best books ever written about music by a musician.
Bob Zeidler
He was bombastic, egotistical and extremely adept at telling a story.
tapir@tapirback.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Anyone familiar with the works of Oscar Wilde will of course know where the "take-off" above comes from. And how trenchantly - even scathingly - funny that particular work is, even to the point where some folks have fun citing extended passages at will, out loud, just for the "yuks" it contains. Well, add "The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz" to that short list.

I am now barely 100 pages into this screamer, after having recently concluded reading the magisterial and sympathetic two-volume biography of Berlioz by David Cairns (who also provides the perfect translation of these Memoirs). Frankly, I wasn't sure that I could handle "yet more Berlioz" so soon after finishing the Cairns volumes (although Cairns provided plenty of justification, in terms of his ability to pinpoint Berlioz's scathing wit).

I shouldn't have worried.

Berlioz is certainly famous among music lovers, and musicians and composers, for a long list of "firsts": The first to take the proto-Romantic beginnings started so auspiciously by Beethoven to new heights, the first to expand the size (and instruments) of the classical orchestra to something closely resembling today's symphony orchestra, the first to write a detailed study on the uses of the instruments in the orchestra, including the effects of venue acoustics on the orchestra's sound... It's a long list, and this is just a part of it.

But Berlioz was also a brilliant writer. Inter alia, his "feuilletons" (music & arts criticism for the cultural journals of his time) and his "Evenings in the Orchestra" (including several of his better feuilletons) showed both his brilliance as a writer on the arts and his scathing wit.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The inimitable Hector Berlioz was a prolific writer (perhaps he missed his true calling). His memoirs are an irresistible and captivating read, giving us an all too brief window into his life-long struggles, both personally and professionally. Cairns did a bang-up job at translation (no real complaints here) and the Everyman's edition is splendidly printed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ct reader on December 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a rare, surprisingly lucid, firsthand account of the life of one of the most influential and innovative composers in history. Descriptions of contemporaries, the artist's balance of art/business, and the intimate history of specific works (Fantastique, Harold, Faust, Les Troyens, etc) are valuable to those interested in classical music and period history.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
The other reviews pretty much sum up the qualities of Berlioz's writing. Like others, I find is prose more inviting than his music. Immensely candid, entertaining and wonderfully written, it would be a great shame if only musicians were to read it - it's enjoyable on so many levels. The only reason I decided to write this was to urge anyone thinking of buying it to get hold of David Cairns' more modern translation. It reads far more fluently and somehow seems to get inside Berlioz's character in a way that the older translation doesn't. It also has among the appendices a valuable dissection of the contentious points and parts where Berlioz was economical with the truth.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Li Ran (rli@fas.harvard.edu) on February 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Is this guy for real?! Hector Berlioz seems too amazing to be true: I knew he was a superb music composer but I applaud him even more as an enchanting story teller. I should have guessed that the man who came up with the Symphonie Fantastique (a symphony with a story plot) could recount the extraordinary events of his life with such vivacity and good timing. And he did have some extraordinary events in his life. Exuberant, tortured, starving, successful, in love, angered, whatever the state of Berlioz's life, he lived it fully. At times soap opera-esque (I almost fell over reading about how he plotted to dress up as a maid and kill his faithless fiance), this book was a true joy to read. Thanks, Berlioz!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Potter on October 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No doubt, those who are passionate and knowledgeable about music will inhale the Memoirs as soon as they can get their hands on it. It is a precious gift for that select group. I want to make the point that this book will fully reward anyone who is generally interested in many things and who loves great literature. Reading it, I am frequently reminded of Mann's Doctor Faustus but only in that both are books about a composer and the Memoirs is so utterly superior a reading experience. I am nearly at the end now and have found the actual reading to go slower than I would have expected for, say, a work of fiction. This is good. The book has become a part of my life. I'll be sorry to see it go.
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