Far from being always unjustly neglected until the late twentieth century, as a recent view would have it, Berlioz’s music enjoyed dedicated attention and considerable admiration a century earlier. His orchestral works, in particular, were taken up by a range of skilful players and conductors in Britain from the 1870s, yielding performances in the English regions, the London suburbs and in Scotland that impressed ordinary listeners much more than many experienced ones. I argue that structural change and professional competition within the British concert industry to 1920 assisted this remarkable reception – largely ignored in the historiography of Berlioz’s reputation as well as in that of British musical culture – while imaginative musicians, astute promoters, writers and thousands of listeners continued to benefit from contact with his work. Berlioz’s challenging music indeed became an agent of aesthetic change in Britain – a benchmark, and a calling-card, of modern orchestral presentation that was both standard and commonly accessible before the First World War.


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pp. 306-348
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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