The Passionate Love of Hector Berlioz
Tue, 13 Feb 2018

Hector Berlioz: a man who loved passionately but failed miserably when it came to his choice in women. In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s spend this week looking at the crazy love affairs of this famous, romantic composer.
One of my favorite stories from Berlioz’s life comes from his memoirs. While working as a guitar teacher at a girl’s boarding school, Berlioz met a young piano teacher named Camille Marie Moke, who worked at the same school. Miss Moke offered herself as a lovely distraction to Berlioz as he attempted to move on from a woman who refused to pay him notice. In his memoirs Berlioz describes the relationship in his usual passionate language:

“If I were to describe the whole affair and the incredible incidents of every kind that it gave rise to, the reader would no doubt be entertained in an unexpected and interesting fashion. But, as I have stated before, I am not writing confessions. Suffice it to say that Mlle M--- set my senses on fire till all the devils of hell danced in my veins.”
Not long after this, Berlioz became the distinguished winner of the Prix de Rome, requiring his presence in Italy for designated period. Berlioz requested Camille’s hand in marriage the evening before his departure and she gladly accepted.

After spending some time in Rome, Berlioz began to wonder why he never received letters from his lover. When he discovered that she married the piano maker, Camille Pleyel, he became overcome by rage and passion. Disguising himself as a female maid, he plotted to travel to Paris where he would kill the newlyweds. Prior to reaching his destination, the composer realized the impracticality of his plan, knowing that it would only be successful if he in turn took his own life following the homicide. Discouraged and heartbroken, he returned to Italy.

People do crazy things when they are in love. Our friend Berlioz felt passionate toward multiple ladies. His passion toward another woman, Harriet Smithson, would lead to the creation of one of his most sought-after works. Next time we’ll discuss the love affair behind Symphonie fantastique.   

More from Clef Notes:

Rhythm Games
Tue, 20 Mar 2018

Making Music in a Game
Thu, 15 Mar 2018

The Role of Music in Gaming
Tue, 13 Mar 2018

Video Game Music History!
Thu, 08 Mar 2018

Video Games and Music
Tue, 06 Mar 2018

Schubert's "Great" Symphony
Thu, 01 Mar 2018

Living in Beethoven's Shadow
Tue, 27 Feb 2018

Mozart, Salieri, and Pop Culture
Thu, 22 Feb 2018

The Mozart/Salieri Rivalry
Tue, 20 Feb 2018

Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
Thu, 15 Feb 2018

The Passionate Love of Hector Berlioz
Tue, 13 Feb 2018

Brahms' Correspondence with Clara Schumann
Thu, 08 Feb 2018

The Pursuit of Clara Schumann
Tue, 06 Feb 2018

Querelle des bouffons
Wed, 31 Jan 2018

Shostakovich's Response to Criticism
Fri, 26 Jan 2018

Controversy and Shostakovich
Wed, 24 Jan 2018

Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth
Mon, 22 Jan 2018

Irony in Kindertotenlieder
Fri, 19 Jan 2018

Controversy Behind Kindertotenlieder
Wed, 17 Jan 2018

Mahler's Kindertotenlieder
Mon, 15 Jan 2018