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Music in the Nineteenth Century


CHAPTER 6 Critics
Richard Taruskin

Returning now to the Symphonie fantastique, the fifth and last movement, in which the artist imagines his own bizarre funeral, was at first notorious for all the deliberately ugly music it contains. One can hardly hear the opening bars, with their interminably sustained diminished-seventh chords, without thinking of Weber's “Wolf's Glen,” a work Berlioz revered and, both as critic and as composer, did his best to propagate. (His interpolated recitatives, composed on commission, allowed Der Freischütz to be performed at the Académie Royale, the bona fide “Paris Opera,” rather than at the Opéra Comique.) But Berlioz's music, unlike Weber's, had to do the work of the whole “production.” It is surely with Der Freischütz in mind that D. Kern Holoman praises “the ghostly beginning of the last movement, with the eight-part divisi strings articulating a dramatic sonority, the whole concept as splendid as the curtain rising on an eerie stage lit in green and purple.”30 With such a task to perform, it is no wonder either that the first part of the “Dream of the Witches’ Sabbath” is the part of the Symphonie fantastique with the most detailed program, or that every event it details is unmistakably represented in the music. The program, and the “unmistakability” of the representation, were alone what justified the outrageous musical effects.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 6 Critics." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume3/actrade-9780195384833-div1-006008.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 6 Critics. In Oxford University Press, Music in the Nineteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume3/actrade-9780195384833-div1-006008.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 6 Critics." In Music in the Nineteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume3/actrade-9780195384833-div1-006008.xml
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