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Berlioz on MusicSelected Criticism 1824-1837$
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Katherine Kolb

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391950

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391950.001.0001

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Music Review

Music Review

à elle, Letters for Piano by Chrétien Urhan with this epigraph:

(p.105) 18 Music Review
Berlioz on Music

Katherine Kolb

Oxford University Press

This is one of two reviews of this curious cycle of piano-vocal pieces by Urhan, the first viola soloist for Harold in Italy. More than a review of Urhan’s work itself, the piece is one of Berlioz’s attempts to explain the idea of expression in music, and implicitly to defend his musical practice against charges of trying to make music “say too much.” Among his colorful arguments is a story from Napoleon’s youth, who on hearing an insult to his mother, uttered a cry more expressive than any possible words. His numerous literary references prove more eloquent perhaps than his rational arguments in defending. As a friend and fellow traveler on the path of what Berlioz calls “poetic music,” Urhan deserves support, although Berlioz seems a bit hard pressed to defend the quality of his work.

Keywords:   Urhan, sensibility, music as poetry, musical expression

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