Hector Berlioz and Christmas

Painting of Hector Berlioz by Gustave Courbet, 1850.(Photo: Gustave Courbet)
Painting of Hector Berlioz by Gustave Courbet, 1850.(Photo: Gustave Courbet)

French composer Hector Berlioz was born on December 11, 1803. Noting how close his birthday is to Christmas, I thought I would bring to your attention his great choral work L’enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ).

I have to admit that when I think of Berlioz, what first comes to mind are the dramatic pieces that express the Romantic spirit so strongly, such as the Symphonie fantastique, The Damnation of Faust, Romeo et Juliette, and concert overtures.

The Childhood of Christ (from 1855) shows a gentler side of this sometimes wildly dramatic composer and tells the story of the Holy Family’s flight from Bethlehem into Egypt. The beautiful Shepherd’s Farewell, in particular, is loved by many.

When I saw this nicely-produced video with Sir Colin Davis talking about this piece in conjunction with his recent recording of it, I thought I would share it with you to bring attention to beautiful music that may not come to mind as quickly as some of the other holiday favorites we hear this time of the year:

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