- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Phoenix ed. edition (August 15, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226038610
- ISBN-13: 978-0226038612
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,762,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Berlioz and His Century: An Introduction to the Age of Romanticism Phoenix ed. Edition
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The designation of Berlioz, along with Keats, as The Romantic Genius, has cemented his place in the general surveys of musical and 19th century history. Sustained equally by the overly-emphasized program of "Symphonie Fantastique" and the easily recountable breaking of his engagement to Camille Moke- Berlioz as a Personality could be as easily subsumed in a general, genteely eccentric, demi-Napoleonic, bohemian Romantic "character".
Barzun does not reject the singleness of the Romantic era, as he might have done, in questioning the existence of such an all-encompassing character for it; but explains the depth, the real pragmatism and sense of great morality, on all sides, by which the new generations of necessarily market-dependant artists were precluded by the more aristocratic-minded institutions that fostered them. Berlioz stood in the earliest of these generations, and emerges from his environment sympathetically human. If the embodiment of a period in a single person is a cause for endless fascination (and, barring that, assignation), it is also a cause for beaurocratic tedium, financial pandering, and occasional compositions.
Barzun, having managed in one of his more recent works to extradite John Calvin from the morass of that leader's legacy, deserves admiration for the still more formidable task, in this work, of sorting out the arguments of the last two centuries concerning artistic prerogative, if not for happening yet on their solution.
"Berlioz and His Century" consequently retains (like all of Barzun's narratives) both historical importance and present relevance in the full extent of its range, while remembering the real and finite experiences of the individual figures who made their times important and relevant.