The Life of Berlioz
The Life of Berlioz situates the celebrated French musician in the vibrant and highly politicized musical culture of the periods of the Bourbon Restoration, July Monarchy, Second Republic, and Second Empire in which he lived and worked as composer, conductor, concert manager, and writer. The author of the Symphonie fantastique was indeed possessed of a fertile and fantastical imagination; but the common image of Berlioz as a misunderstood and mistreated genius obscures both the solidity of his work as a musical architect and the reality of his position as one sometimes favored by those in power. Berlioz is the quintessential romantic composer by dint of the conspicuous intermingling of art and life that marks his musical and literary output. Studying this away from the subjective sentimentality that can still mar studies of the composer in France, serves only to enhance the uncommon radiance of his music and uncommon esprit of his art.