The com­poser

BBC Music Magazine - - Building A Library -

Ber­lioz had just turned 50 when he be­gan putting the fi­nal touches to L’en­fance du Christ, but had al­ready packed quite enough for one life­time into those five decades. Win­ner of the pres­ti­gious Prix de Rome for com­po­si­tion in 1830, he had been in­spired by his in­fat­u­a­tion for one woman, Har­riet Smith­son, to write his ground­break­ing Sym­phonie fan­tas­tique, then driven to mur­der­ous in­tent by his love for an­other, Marie Moke – mer­ci­fully, he aborted his plans to kill her and her fiancé. While Sym­phonie fan­tas­tique had been a roar­ing suc­cess, 1838’s Ben­venuto Cellini then pro­vided him with his first op­er­atic fail­ure.

Build­ing a Li­brary is broad­cast on Ra­dio 3 at 9.30am each Satur­day as part of Record Re­view. A high­lights pod­cast is avail­able at bbc.co.uk/ra­dio3

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