Hector Berlioz - Famous Composers in History

Bust of composer Hector Berlioz. Editorial credit: Rostislav Glinsky / Shutterstock.com.
Bust of composer Hector Berlioz. Editorial credit: Rostislav Glinsky / Shutterstock.com.

Hector Berlioz was a famous French songwriter who lived between the years 1803 and 1869. He is considered to be one of the greatest composers and conductors of the 19th century. He composed approximately fifty compositions and conducted huge orchestral forces of one thousand musicians.

Early Life

Hector was born in La Cote-Saint-Andre commune in France. He was born on December 11, 1803. He was baptized on the third day in a chapel since his father, Louis Berlioz, and mother, Marie-Antoinette were Catholic members. Unlike other music composers, Hector began studying music much later because his father had discouraged him and he never had a chance in his early years. However, at the age of twelve, Hector commenced the study of music when he became familiar with flute, guitar, and flageolet.


On September 1821, Hector Berlioz went to Paris to study medicine. However, due to lack of interest in this field and the increased passion for music, he dropped his studies in 1824. He later composed Messe solennelle and Les francs-juges in the year 1825.

He then started studies under Jean-Francois Le Sueur who was with Anton Reicha at the Conservatoire in the year 1826. His composition, Symphony fantastique, which he finished in 1830 was one of his best composures that shaped his career and won him the Prix de Rome.

On December 30, 1831, Hector went to Italy, Rome to study for two years and returned to Paris in 1832. On his return, he performed concerts such as Symphonie fantastique and Le retour a la vie. He was later introduced to Harriet whom he finally married and they gave birth to a son, Louis Berlioz.

Berlioz later started visiting other countries including Germany, Belgium, Russia, and England among other countries. He was appointed to Paris Conservatoire in 1850 as a head librarian. Berlioz then composed Shepherd’s Farewell and later composed a new opera, Les Troyes as requested by Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein.

Major Contributions

Hector Berlioz contributed a lot to the orchestra as well as Romanticism. Through Beethoven’s work such as the Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire, Berlioz was inspired and included vocal works with opera in his music. He also contributed to the development of literature. Berlioz included literary works such as the Shakespeare in Romeo et Juliette. Through Shakespeare, he also created Romanticism. Berlioz had an impact on other composers who copied his style of composure, and he was also a conductor who conducted choirs in different places.


Berlioz never held a formal post in his career which was detrimental to his financial status. He lacked enough capital to boost his music career. Despite his performance, Hector Berlioz was not recognized in France, which discouraged him and made him visit other countries. Moreover, Hector Berlioz had health problems in his later years, which hindered his career. He had abdominal pains, which greatly agonized him. The deaths of most of his relatives including his son, Louis Berlioz, disturbed him. In fact, when he learned that his son had died, he burnt some of the work he had accumulated for years.

Death And Legacy

On March 8, 1869, Hector died in Paris at his home. Despite Berlioz’s excellent career, his works had not been noticed in France. However, his recognition is associated with the likes of Wagner and Liszt who are all referred to as the “Great Trinity of Progress.” Hector’s work was also appreciated in 2003 when his career was reviewed on newspaper articles and television programmes. Some of his music is also played in the movies such as The Shining, 1980, by Stanley Kubrick.

Hector Berlioz - Famous Composers in History

RankPeople in History
1Early Life
3Major Contributions
5Death and Legacy

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