(Born at La Côte Saint-André, December II, I8o3;
died at Paris, March 9, 1869)
THE MORE Berlioz is studied, the more the wonder grows at his colossal originality. Yet there are some who still insist that he had little melodic invention. They have ears, and they do not hear. They should read the essay of Romain Rolland, and the essay of Felix Weingartner in his Akkorde, for there are many, unfortunately, who do not trust their own judgment and are eager to accept the sayings of others who are considered men of authority.
Berlioz wrote his Fantastic symphony in a high-strung, hotly romantic period. Romanticism was in the air. Much that seems fantastic to us, living in a commercial and material period, was natural then. It was as natural to be extravagant in belief, theories, speech, manner of life, dress, as it was to breathe. And Berlioz was a revolutionary of revolutionaries. His "antediluvian hair" that rose from his forehead was as much of a symbol as was the flaming waistcoat worn by Théophile on the memorable first night of Hernani. We smile now at the eccentricities and the extravagancies of the period, but we owe the perpetrators a heavy debt of gratitude. They made the art of today possible.
It is easy to call Berlioz a poseur, but the young man was terribly in earnest. He put his own love tragedy into his Fantastic symphony; he was a man; he suffered; he was there; and so the music did not pass away with the outward badges of romanticism,