Berlioz Might Have Been a Mess

Abstract Soul
2 min readMay 14, 2021

There are definitely many types of musicians. The uptight one, the perfectionist, the careless one, the passionate one, the “ I’m not good enough”, the cocky one, the “I’m here for the money”, the mad one and no, not as an angry I mean CRAZY, the volatile one, and the messy procrastinator. In this case I believe that Berlioz might have been the messy procrastinator. When reading Kelly’s First Nights Document 12, one can really get an image of what Berlioz looked like and was like as a person and there at the premiere. Le Temps really is great at describing what Berlioz is like without going much in depth, just describing what his attire looks like. He writes, “ his suit is elegant because the tailor made it elegant, but his boots are muddy because his impetuous character refuses to sit still and be pulled along in his carriage because of the activity of his body must match the activity going on in his head”. They make him sound like a humble guy who is very passionate and creative for his composing, and does not really care much about the way he looks or carries himself. He might rather focus on the music instead. A completely brilliant, but clumsy guy.

Also, after taking a look at the printing bill the programs at the premiere for Symphonie Fantastique, it was really evident that Hector Berlioz might have been in a hurry to get the programs printed and ready to go for the premiere. There, it lets us know that there appeared to be more than one version of that original printed program, because of the different printing services and methods it took. I now sit here and imagine how confusing that might have been for the first musicologists and historians who studied the premiere. Finding two different programs and possibly not being able to tell which was the original-original or even which copy was the official one initially intended to be used at the premiere!

But, despite something as superficial as his looks and bad habits, Hector Berlioz really gifted us something very special, his art. His music that can still be enjoyed, admired, and performed today.