Musical Sunday

  • Hector Berlioz: Les nuits d'été op. 7
  • Literature

“Summer Nights” sounds like Shakespeare, love’s bliss and Mediterranean cheerfulness. But the six songs that Hector Berlioz published in 1841 revolve around something quite different: melancholy, loss, the end of a great love. Even black romanticism, an eerie graveyard scene, is included.

Berlioz himself was silent about the circumstances of the cycle’s creation, but the failure of his marriage to the actress Harriet Smithson, his one-time dream wife, may have played a role. Berlioz’s own arrangement of the songs for orchestra became significant in music history, and admirers such as Wagner, Strauss and Mahler took their cue from it.

Two enthusiasts in conversation: Marcus Imbsweiler, writer and musicologist, and Timo Jouko Herrmann, composer and guest conductor of the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra.

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