Romanticism: A Tragedy

STS9, Hollywood Palladium: March 2013
STS9, Hollywood Palladium: March 2013

Song: “III. Scene Aux Champs: Adagio”

Composer: Hector Berlioz

Slow beginning with tones that just seem to effortlessly draw out emotion. As if I am sitting in suspense like I am about to witness a murder in a movie, the composition of the sound blends together staccato, or quick touches of sound. He does this with mostly string instruments. The music begins to lure me with a trance-like riff that repeats then crescendos, taking over any and all sound that was there before. It reminds me of someone trying to find something or remember a lost memory, but then, the music draws to a more intense loudness. The loudness is pleasant in the actual intonation, but it makes my soul feel like it may be pulled apart in any direction at any moment. Suddenly, the music goes back to a varied version of the original rhythm and repeating verses that Berlioz showcased earlier in the song. It makes the listener come back to their mind’s home of reality. As I listen to this, years of going to the ballet with my mom as a child come to mind. I always fell asleep, and I would be suddenly awakened when the orchestra came to a moment of loudness; later, I adapted and could sleep straight through. Maybe, this explains my ability to sleep through my alarm clock, an earthquake, or practically any noise now. In my defense, I was young and could not comprehend the appreciation ballet actually deserves. As I listen now alone during nighttime, anytime the volume draws into a section of immense volume and harsh key or pace, I feel literally terrified- imagining all sorts of possible scenarios. It’s a bit exhausting listening to an epic, for lack of a better word, race and cluster and crash of emotions evoked from the reality of seeing a whole life, a whole story go from point A to point B in my mind. My imagination is way too imaginative to listen to these epic, classical pieces with my eyes closed, but instead of being frightened by where my mind was going as I listened, I decided to use Berlioz to recharge my imagination. My creativity felt like it was finally brought back to life, like a “writer’s block” finally ending. This musical piece seems much more horrifying than any horror movie I have seen, but the composition is structured in such a way that if I step back from a moment, I picture a picturesque composition of a simple daily routine, such as two people walking in a garden. However simple though, there is still emotion; possibly a slight exaggeration of the day’s heat is the topic of the friends’ conversation. While listening, the concentration I held on the music faded in and out, because I, too, got lost in an ideal daydream. This musical piece reinforces the ideals of the Romantic Era through its intense emotion that brings about a simple and real essence of beauty, but it is just that. It is an essence of beauty. The music is composed in such a way that these beautiful verses of music radiate passion and drama that is filled with a sense of hope, yet ends in tragic circumstances. I imagine- as the music get more hectic… It reminds me of the social discontent of the time period and the confusion felt by the people throughout the continent. Through this piece, I feel as if Hector Berlioz is taking me on a merry-go-round of my life, memories here and there. I feel like the musical pieces created now and back during the Romantic era may reflect more on the listener or the culture of the time, rather than the actual artists themselves.


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