Published 1999 by Allen Lane, the Penguin Press. In black cloth hard cover with illustrated dust jacket. Good condition throughout.
This first volume of David Cairns's biography of Berlioz, first published a decade ago (when it won the Royal Philharmonic Society's Music Awards, the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year and the British Academy's Derek Allen Prize) and now reissued in a revised and corrected second edition, transform our view of the composer of the "Fantastic Symphony" and has established itself as one of the outstanding biographies of any musician in English.
"It is already clear", wrote one critic, "that Cairns is doing for Berlioz what Ernest Newman did for Wagner".
In this book the author describes with unprecedented intimacy, affection and respect the early years of one of France's greatest artists. In researching the life, Cairns has had access to a wealth of family papers. He is able to portray all the people close to Berlioz in his boyhood and to evoke a detailed picture of their existence in an d around La Cote St Andre in the foothills of the French Alps. No artist's achievement connects more directly with early experience than that of Berlioz, whose passionate sensibility began to absorb the material of his art long before he had heard any musical ensemble other than the local town band, and few artists have had to fight their way through a more intense family drama in order to follow their vocation. To be given an authentic sense of the place and the people involved, and of Berlioz's response to them, is to be taken to the heart of the man.
The same is true of Berlioz's student years in Paris, where he tried to please his father by attending medical school but soon found the pull of music irresistible. He immersed himself in the works of Gluck and Spontini; studied with Jean-Francois Le Sueur, at first privately, then at the Conservatoire; won the Prix de Rome at his fifth attempt; and spent the obligatory year in Italy. Those simple statements cover a turmoil of commitment, defiance, experiment, frustration and achievement, all of which Cairns brings to life. berlioz's development as a composer is fully described.so are his three great love affairs: his boyhood passion foe Estelle Dubeuf which was to run like a musical; theme through his life; his almost and obsession with the English actress Harriet Smithson; and his much less unreal love for the brilliant pianist Camille Moke.
This volume ends when, after two years away from Paris, Berlioz has organized the concert which will launch him on his professional career.