Hector Berlioz Quotes

Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869) was a French composer, conductor, and music critic. He influenced a generation of composers to adopt a musical style called Romanticism.

“Music and love are the wings of the soul.” – Hector Berlioz

“Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down.” – Hector Berlioz

“It is not enough that the artist should be well prepared for the public. The public must be well prepared for what it is going to hear.” – Hector Berlioz

“The trombone is the true head of the family of wind instruments… it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to savage, orgiastic outburst.” – Hector Berlioz

“Love cannot express the idea of music, while music may give an idea of love.” – Hector Berlioz

“Only by pairing knowledge with inspiration will art evolve. Without these conditions any musician will remain a flawed artist, if one may speak of an artist at all.” – Hector Berlioz

“At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings.” – Hector Berlioz

“Instrumentation is to music precisely what color is to painting.” – Hector Berlioz
A travers chants (1862), ch. 1; Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay (trans.) The Art of Music and Other Essays (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994) p. 5.
Original quote in French “Cette face de l’instrumentation est exactement, en musique, ce que le coloris est en peinture.”

“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.” – Hector Berlioz
Letter written in November 1856, published in Pierre Citron (ed.) Correspondance générale (Paris: Flammarion, 1989) vol. 5, p. 390; Paul Davies About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 214.
Original quote in French “Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on; le malheur est qu’il soit un maître inhumain qui tue ses élèves.”

“If men of genius only knew what love their works inspire!” – Hector Berlioz

“The luck of having talent is not enough; one must also have a talent for luck.” – Hector Berlioz

“To render my works properly requires a combination of extreme precision and irresistible verve, a regulated vehemence, a dreamy tenderness, and an almost morbid melancholy.” – Hector Berlioz

“Time, time – that is our greatest master! Alas, like Ugolino, time devours its own children.” – Hector Berlioz

“He is an immense nightingale, a lark as great as an eagle. . . . The music causes me to dream of fabulous empires, filled with fabulous sins.” – Heinrich Heine commenting on the music of Hector Berlioz.

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