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Berlioz

Berlioz, Hector, was born in 1803 near Grenoble. His father was a physician, and wishing his son to follow the same profession sent him to Paris to study medicine. He, however, devoted himself to music and passed the entrance examination at the Conservatoire as a pupil of Lesner. His father being displeased with him for relinquishing medicine, he had to support himself now, which he did by singing in the chorus at the Gymnase. In 1828 he won the second prize at the Conservatoire, and in 1830 the first, called the Prix de Rome, which carries with it an income for three years to be expended in musical studies at Rome. He afterwards became a contributor to the Journal des Debats, and in 1833 married Henrietta Smithson, an Irish actress. In 1838 Paganini was so struck on hearing the Symphonie Fantastique, which Berlioz had composed while still a student, that he presented him with 20,000 francs. In 1839 Berlioz was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and received the appointment of librarian to the Conservatoire. In 1842 he set out upon a musical tour, meeting with enthusiastic receptions whereever he went. In 1852 he went to London and was engaged as conductor of the New Philharmonic Society. In the following year he successfully produced his Benvenuto Cellini at the Royal Italian Opera, acting also as musical conductor at Covent Garden. His best known works are the Symphonie Fantastique, Lelio, Romeo et Juliette, and La Damnation de Faust. He died in 1869, since which time the popularity of his works has gone on increasing.

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