Great Italian and French Composers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 197 pages of information about Great Italian and French Composers.
his idol should know that she had no unworthy lover.  He would give a concert, and Miss Smithson should be present by hook or by crook.  He went to Cherubini and asked permission to use the great hall of the Conservatoire, but was churlishly refused.  Berlioz however, managed to secure the concession over the head of Cherubini, and advertised his concert.  He went to large expense in copyists, orchestra, solo-singers, and chorus, and, when the night came, was almost fevered with expectation.  But the concert was a failure, and the adored one was not there; she had not even heard of it!  The disappointment nearly laid the young composer on a bed of sickness; but, if he oscillated between deliriums of hope and despair, his powerful will was also full of elasticity, and not for long did he even rave in the utter ebb of disappointment.  Throughout the whole of his life, Berlioz displayed this swiftness of recoil; one moment crazed with grief and depression, the next he would bend to his labor with a cool, steady fixedness of purpose, which would sweep all interferences aside like cobwebs.  But still, night after night, he would haunt the Odeon, and drink in the sights and sounds of the magic world of Shakespeare, getting fresh inspiration nightly for his genius and love.  If he paid dearly for this rich intellectual acquaintance by his passion for La Belle Smithson, he yet gained impulses and suggestions for his imagination, ravenous of new impressions, which wrought deeply and permanently.  Had Berlioz known the outcome, he would not have bartered for immunity by losing the jewels and ingots of the Shakespeare treasure-house.

The year 1830 was for Berlioz one of alternate exaltation and misery; of struggle, privation, disappointment; of all manner of torments inseparable from such a volcanic temperament and restless brain.  But he had one consolation which gratified his vanity.  He gained the Prix de Rome by his cantata of “Sardanapalus.”  This honor had a practical value also.  It secured him an annuity of three thousand francs for a period of five years, and two years’ residence in Italy.  Berlioz would never let “well enough” alone, however.  He insisted on adding an orchestral part to the completed score, describing the grand conflagration of the palace of Sardanapalus.  When the work was produced, it was received with a howl of sarcastic derision, owing to the latest whim of the composer.  So Berlioz started for Italy, smarting with rage and pain, as if the Furies were lashing him with their scorpion whips.

III.

The pensioners of the Conservatoire lived at Rome in the Villa Medici, and the illustrious painter, Horace Vernet, was the director, though he exercised but little supervision over the studies of the young men under his nominal charge.  Berlioz did very much as he pleased—­studied little or much as the whim seized him, visited the churches, studios, and picture-galleries, and spent no little of his

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Great Italian and French Composers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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