Berlioz - Te Deum
Type of spiritual experience
La damnation de Faust was premiered at the Paris Opéra-Comique, but after two performances, the run was discontinued and the work was a 'popular failure', despite receiving generally favourable critical reviews.[ This left Berlioz heavily in debt to the tune of 5000 to 6000 francs. Becoming ever more disenchanted with his prospects in France, he wrote:
Great success, great profit, great performances, etc. etc. ... France is becoming more and more philistine towards music, and the more I see of foreign lands the less I love my own. Art, in France, is dead; so I must go where it is still to be found. In England apparently there has been a real revolution in the musical consciousness of the nation in the last ten years. We shall see.
In 1847, during a seven-month visit to England, he was appointed conductor at the London Drury Lane Theatre. He began writing his Mémoires. But, during his stay in England, the February Revolution broke out in France.
Berlioz arrived back in France in 1848, only to be informed that his father had died shortly after his return. He went back to his birthplace to mourn his father along with his sisters. Meanwhile, his former wife and early infatuation - Harriet's - health was declining due to alcohol abuse and she suffered a series of strokes that left her an invalid. Berlioz paid for four servants to look after her on a permanent basis and visited her almost daily.
In 1848, he began composition of his Te Deum.
Harriet Smithson died in 1854. In 1855, the Te Deum received its premiere with Berlioz conducting.
A description of the experience
Te Deum op 22 by Hector Berlioz
Francisco Araiza, Tenor
London Symphony Chorus
London Philharmonic Choir
Wooburn Singers Boys Choirs
Richard Hickox, chorus-master
Martin Haselböck, organ
European Community Youth Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor
The source of the experience
Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image
Observation contributed by: Margaret Booth