Les Mémoires d'Hector Berlioz

Begun in London in 1848, Berlioz’s Mémoires could have been published in the aftermath of the Grand Traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, whose first impression was made at the end of 1843, and of the Voyage musical en Allemagne et en Italie, which appeared in July 1844, as what might have been seen as “provisional” memoirs. The composer’s decision to broaden the narration of his life, parts of which he had already committed to print, to include an account of the later years of his career, and to have the book published only after his death, made of the Mémoires his (literary) last will and testament, appearing as they did after Les Soirées de l’orchestre (1852), Les Grotesques de la musique (1859), and À travers chants (1862). Unlike those books, compendia of tales and anecdotes, manifestos and adorations, most of which were earlier published in newspapers and magazines, Berlioz’s ultimate volume is rather a mosaic of episodes of the life of the artist peppered with delightful tangents and parentheses, imaginary conversations, sagas of travels in France and abroad, biographical sketches, and bountiful quotations and paraphrases that reveal a prodigious memory, a polished literary style, a delightful sense of humor, and a simply extraordinary general culture.   

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digitized editions
genreAutobiography (Memoirs)
editorMichel Lévy frères
place of publicationParis
years of publication1870
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