Berlioz was one of the most innovative orchestrators in the history of music. He had a genius for combining instruments to produce unusual sonorities, and for using individual instruments in original ways. In 1840 he wrote a piece for a brass band of 200 players to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the revolution of 1830. The first performance was given by a huge band marching through the streets of Paris and the sound must have been astonishing. And it still is! A few years later the composer added a chorus to the final movement Apotheosis.
Performances of this Grande symphonie funebre et triomphale are rare today but Simon Rattle and members of the Berlin Philharmonic and more than a few “friends” took it on last October. Our video includes an excerpt from the last movement.
Paul E. Robinson