Sunday, June 12, 2022

Hector Berlioz - Royal Hunt and Storm

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who eliminated the New York Rangers last night to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.  The Lightning have won the Cup the last two years and will now play Colorado for the Threepeat.  This is pretty rare, although the Rangers did four in a row in the early 1980s.

Since it is Sunday Morning, classical music is on the menu.  To congratulate the Lightning, this is perhaps the greatest classical composition about lightning - even greater than Beethoven's Symphony no. 6 (Pastoral), made famous in Disney's Fantasia

Hector Berlioz was an interesting fellow.  He was a free thinker and a rebel in a rigidly conformist period, and so his music runs a wide gamut from groundbreaking (like his Symphony Fantastique) to pedestrian (but commercially successful).  He was a lover of both Shakespeare and classical literature, and was encouraged by his patron to combine these loves.  He chose the story of the Trojan War as told in Virgil's The Aeneid, written in grand Shakespearean tradition.  The 1858 Les Troyens is  certainly his greatest Opera, and perhaps his greatest work.  Certainly it was his most ambitious, taking four years to complete.  It was so long that he struggled to get it staged, eventually breaking it into two parts (The Fall Of Troy and The Trojans At Carthage).

In this section of the Opera a sudden summer storm blows up causing the lovers to take refuge in a cave.  A lightning bolt hits a tree, much to the delight of the nearby satyrs and fauns who pick up burning branches and dance around with them.  The Romantic Movement was nothing if not romantic.


libertyman said...

Ah Sunday Music -- sitting on my porch in Maine learning about a fellow named Hector Berlioz.

Key quote from his interesting biography:

"I was finishing my cantata when the revolution broke out ... I dashed off the final pages of my orchestral score to the sound of stray bullets coming over the roofs and pattering on the wall outside my window. On the 29th I had finished, and was free to go out and roam about Paris till morning, pistol in hand."

He actually finished medical school, which is amazing and in spite of his father's wishes followed his true love, music.

Many thanks for doing this.

Unknown said...

Actually, it was the Islanders who won four Stanley Cups in a row -- 1980-84. They were an exciting, young team and featured the famous "Trio Grande" or "Long Island Lightning Company" line -- Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, and Clark Gilles. Sadly, Mike Bossy recently passed away from lung cancer.