Les Grotesques de la musique

Released seven years after Soirées de l’orchestre, this collection was commissioned by the publisher La Librairie nouvelle early in 1859. At that time Berlioz had just contributed a series of musical anecdotes to the magazine La Chronique parisienne; it was in the same spirit that he fashioned a volume intended to be “amusing even while saying something cruelly serious” (CG V, 19 Feb. 1859). From his articles of the 1850s he put together a collection of narratives, portraits, and anecdotes extracted from their context to form a veritable gallery of characters. Echoing the dedication of Soirées de l’orchestre—“To my good friends the musicians of the orchestra of X***, a civilised city”, he addressed his Grotesques “To my good friends the choristers of the Opera of Paris, that barbarous city”. Between a Prologue in the form of a humorous letter addressed to the choristers of the Opéra and a final sally that closes ironically with the music of the Dies irae (“that tune so gay and familiar”), the collection consists of a baggy collection of vignettes, witticisms, and anecdotes turning sometimes to aphorism, interrupted by four lengthier Dispatches which include a hilarious account of a thermal cure at Plombières and Baden and a colourful review of Berlioz’s own concerts in Marseille, Lyon, and Lille.

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digitized editions
genreMusic Criticism
editorLibrairie nouvelle
place of publicationParis
years of publication1859
same ashttp://data.bnf.fr/15043872/hector_berlioz_les_grotesques_de_la_musique/