Season Finale

Season Finale


When a company of actors presented a series of Shakespeare performances at the Odéon Theatre in Paris in 1827, one member of the audience was changed forever. He was the composer Hector Berlioz, who recalled the ‘thunderbolt’ effect those evenings of Shakespeare had on him.

The Bard’s work weaved its way through Berlioz’s career but it wasn’t until the composer’s third symphony that he would write a major work based explicitly on Shakespeare. Naturally, it was the balls, battles, anger, revenge and impassioned love of Romeo & Juliet that proved most irresistible.

Like the best Berlioz, his symphony based on the story of the star-crossed lovers is impossible to categorize. Not a word of Shakespeare’s text is used, and while the warring families are given voice by a double choir, the title characters are represented only by the orchestra. The result is the pinnacle of French Romanticism, the peak of Berlioz’s orchestral mastery, and under Principal Guest Conductor Sir Mark Elder, the culmination of our season at the Grieg Hall.

Photo: Bryn Terfel, Mitch Jenkins / Deutsche Grammophon

Related concert recordings at Bergenphilive:
Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Hector Berlioz: Grande messe des morts