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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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Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots

Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots

Acts 4 and 5

(p.219) 36 Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots
Berlioz on Music

Katherine Kolb

Oxford University Press

Five years after Robert le diable in 1831, Meyerbeer produces his next grand opera, this one set during the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572. Writing from memory and jottings during rehearsals and the premiere, Berlioz assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the vast work, analyzing selected numbers and singling out innovations. His three-part article (for the first two parts, see the Companion Website) proceeds in crescendo. On March 6 he summarizes the plot and describes some highlights. On March 13 he begins the analysis proper, reviewing the first three acts, portraying the passions of the crowd. In this third piece, he turns to the final acts, portraying the passions of the main characters. These acts are, for Berlioz, the soul of the work. He praises with genuine enthusiasm its complex, inventive, demanding style, whose success may bode well for his own upcoming opera.

Keywords:   Meyerbeer Les Huguenots, Meyerbeer Robert le diable, Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, instrumentation, pure music, dramatic music, operatic crowd scenes, religious themes

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