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By Berlioz, Hugh Macdonald

Berlioz's Orchestration Treatise (1843) is a vintage textbook by means of a grasp of the orchestra, which has now not been to be had in English translation for over a century. this can be a publication via and approximately Berlioz, because it presents not just a brand new translation but additionally an in depth statement on his textual content, facing the tools of Berlioz's time and evaluating his guide together with his perform. it truly is therefore a research of the excessive craft of the main precise orchestrator of the 19th century.

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Example text

A special string-crossing effect is used in the last Tableau of Benvenuto Cellini (NBE 1c: 1074), where Ex. 17 is marked ‘on two strings’. Ex. 17 (Allegro con moto) (sur deux cordes) I Violins II The ‘symphonic work’ Berlioz refers to is of course his own Symphonie fantastique in whose finale, at bar 444, firsts, seconds and violas are instructed: ‘frappez avec le bois de l’archet’ (‘strike with the wood of the bow’)(NBE 16: 156). Col legno was not a widely used technique at the time. Berlioz was certainly ignorant of Mozart’s marking ‘coll’arco al roverscio’ in his Violin Concerto in A, K.

5; Cond´e, p. 102. 6 Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise Berlioz himself then called for a ‘feu de peloton’, a volley of musketry, in his Marche pour la derni`ere sc`ene d’Hamlet, composed in 1844, to represent the salute to the dead (NBE 12b: 115). The pistol shot Berlioz referred to was fired by Gaetano Pugnani when conducting a performance of his twenty-two-movement suite on Goethe’s Werther in Turin in the 1790s. Pugnani, for realistic effect, conducted in his shirtsleeves. The story was told by Blangini in his Souvenirs, published in Paris in 1834 and doubtless read by Berlioz.

They now do all they can to raise obstacles to musical progress elsewhere. Things have always been like that and we should not be surprised. At one time music was only permitted as a series of consonant harmonies interspersed with a few suspended dissonances. When Monteverdi tried to introduce the unprepared dominant seventh, scorn and abuse was hurled at him. But once this seventh had been accepted as an addition to the repertory of suspended dissonances, it became a point of honour among those who regarded themselves as musically aware to disdain any composition whose harmony was simple, mild, clear-sounding or natural.

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