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Berlioz's (anti-) Heroes: Harold en Italie

This paper takes as its starting point Mark Evan Bonds’s description of Berlioz’s second symphony, Harold en Italie, as an ‘anti-heroic’ work and pits it against more recent interrogations of the idea of heroism. It broadly accepts Bonds’s intertextual approach, by viewing Harold en Italie as a confrontation between Beethovenian heroism, manifested in the generic classification symphony, and anti-heroism, represented by the allusions to Byron, but rejects the purely aesthetic basis for discussion, opting, instead, for a philosophical one. Following Scott Burnham’s distillation of heroism into various notions of musical coherence—such as a sense of a governing line, a relationship between part and whole, and a tendency towards large-scale thematic-harmonic organisation—the paper assesses more thoroughly Berlioz’s relationship to the heroic. In a final move, it addresses a long tradition of viewing the heroism of Beethoven’s middle period as a musical manifestation of Hegel’s dialectic of the subject to uncover Berlioz’s understanding of romantic subjectivity.
Period2 Jun 2015
Event typeConference
LocationUnited KingdomShow on map