Learn about Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, an iconic Romantic symphony that ushered in an era of narrative “program music.”
About this course
Six years after the premiere of Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, composer Hector Berlioz sought to make use of the symphonic genre, but on his own terms. Indeed, he wrote not only a five-movement symphony but also a narrative program to accompany and explain the symphony.
This music course introduces students to the music and programmatic elements of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, illuminating a new direction for nineteenth-century music. The course’s grand finale is a live performance of the entire symphony by the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra.
Harvard’s Thomas Forrest Kelly (Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music) guides learners through Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique, highlighting Berlioz’s compositional process, his innovative orchestration, and the reception of his controversial piece of narrative instrumental music.
You will learn the basics of Romantic musical style, Berlioz’s creative expansion of the standard orchestra, and the debates surrounding the idea of purely musical narrative in the 19th century.
Additional First Nights Modules:
- Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and the Birth of Opera
- Handel’s Messiah and Baroque Oratorio
- Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony”
- Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Program Music in the 19th Century
- Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring: Modernism, Ballet, and Riots
What you will learn?
- Stylistic features of Romantic music, including program music
- Technical details of composition and orchestration in the 19th century
- Appreciate the cultural context and performance circumstances of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique
Performance of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, by the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra section
Lesson 1: Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique: Paris, 1830 section
- Paris in 1830
- Berlioz in Paris
- Music in Paris
Lesson 2: The Program and the Idee Fixe section
- Romanticism and Program Music
- The Ideé Fixe
Lesson 3: Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique: The Symphony, Part 1 section
I. Reveries; passions
II. A ball
Lesson 4: Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique: The Symphony, Part 2 section
III. Scene in the Fields
IV. March to the Scaffold
V. Dream of the Witches’ Sabbath
Lesson 5: Preparations, Sources, and the Premiere section
The Symphony and Its Revision
Introduction to the First Nights Series (Optional) section
- Introduction to the First Nights Modules
- The Second Point – The Culture
- The Third Point, the Listener – How Do We Describe Music?
Music Theory (Optional) section
- Introduction to Music Theory
- Pitch Basics
- Musical Time
- Pitch Structure
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- Harvard University
- Online Course
- 1-4 Weeks
- Free Course (Affordable Certificate)
- Culture History Musical instruments Opera