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“It can take eight or nine attempts before I am rid of an article for the Journal Des Débats,” Hector Berlioz once despaired, “even when the subject excites or amuses me. The first draft is often like a battlefield.”
Yet despite the fact that he originally turned to music criticism only to keep the wolves from the door, Berlioz became one of the most distinguished French writers on music.
His Evenings With The Orchestra is an often hilarious collection of stories and recollections written as though observed from the orchestra pit. One anecdote tells of the piano that wouldn’t stop playing Mendelssohn’s whirlwind concertos until someone finally took an axe to it.
His beloved Gluck, however, is singled out for high praise when Berlioz recollects that following a performance of Iphigénie En Tauride, everyone was so deeply affected that not a word was spoken until it was time for bed.