Only a fortnight to the big day. Today, our Advent Calendar door opens to Berlioz.
Hector Berlioz was born on 11th December 1803, and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a Christmas piece from his works.
Berlioz occupies a special place in the hearts of all those who have no time for religion but delight in the music which celebrates it – like Hardy, he was not a believer beyond childhood yet wrote with devotion on sacred themes. His great love was Shakespeare, of whom he said, “It is you that are our father in heaven, if there is a heaven.”
L’enfance du Christ, premiered in 1853, was received with enthusiasm by most critics, an unusual response given the hostility which Berlioz’ works generally provoked. From such a wonderful work it’s difficult to pick out one section, but L’adieu des bergers (The Shepherds’ Farewell) is probably the best known. It’s sung here by the Royal Choral Society.