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Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz (1803-69)


Born near Grenoble in 1803, Berlioz was the son of a doctor and began medical studies himself but against his father's wishes he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire and was drawn to the Romantic movement which, in Paris, was represented by the authors Dumas (fils) and Hugo, and by the painter Delacroix. During his student years, he became obsessed with winning the Conservatoire's Prix de Rome, eventually succeeding on his fifth attempt in 1830; the same year also saw the composition of his best-known work, the Symphonie Fantastique, which was inspired by his unrequited obsession with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson.

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