There’s a Fine Line Between Musical Genius and Obsessive Stalker

Hector Berlioz went to a Shakespeare play one night and saw Harriet Smithson. He saw her and made it his business to continue seeing her. Between her initial disinterest and their eventual marriage came Symphonie Fantastique.

Obsessed and bizarre is a pretty accurate description of this work as a whole. Insisting that audiences read an accompanying programme before listening, the symphony was the story of a man in the pursuit of his beloved, through their meeting, her departure, and an opium induced hallucination of his own execution.

Throughout the 5 movements, we here the idee fixe representing his beloved, a recurring theme which ties the entire work together in his pursuit of the woman.

In Un Bal, we can even hear behaviour, emotions, events: the slide of the sigh motif, the distance of his beloved represented by an F major section in an A major movement, the wide leaps of the crying motif, the pain of the heartbeat motif as his beloved moves away.

This is music of the soul.