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Evenings with the Orchestra

Edited, translated, and with an Introduction by Jacques Barzun
During the performances of fashionable operas in an unidentified but "civilized" town in northern Europe, the musicians (with the exception of the conscientious bass drummer) tell tales, read stories, and exchange gossip to relieve the tedium of the bad music they are paid to perform. In this delightful and now classic narrative written by the brilliant composer and critic Hector Berlioz, we are privy to twenty-five highly entertaining evenings with a fascinating group of distracted performers. As we near the two-hundredth anniversary of Berlioz’s birth, Jacques Barzun’s pitch-perfect translation of Evenings with the Orchestra —with a new foreword by Berlioz scholar Peter Bloom—testifies to the enduring pleasure found in this most witty and amusing book.

"[F]ull of knowledge, penetration, good sense, individual wit, stock humor, justifiable exasperation, understanding exaggeration, emotion and rhetoric of every kind."—Randall Jarrell, New York Times Book Review

"To succeed in [writing these tales], as Berlioz most brilliantly does, requires a combination of qualities which is very rare, the many-faceted curiosity of the dramatist with the aggressively personal vision of the lyric poet."—W. H. Auden, The Griffin

408 pages | 1 halftone | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1956

Music: General Music

Table of Contents

Preface to the Phoenix Edition by Jacques Barzun
Introduction by Jacques Barzun
First Evening
The First Opera—Vincenza—The Vexations of Kleiner the Elder
Second Evening
The Strolling Harpist—The Performance of an Oratorio—The Sleep of the Just
Third Evening [Der Freischültz]
Fourth Evening
A Debut in Freischütz—Marescot
Fifth Evening
The S in Robert le diable
Sixth Evening
How a Tenor Revolves around the Public—The Vexations of Kleiner the Younger
Seventh Evening
Historical and Philosophical Studies: De viris illustribus urbis Romae—A Roman Woman—Vocabulary of the Roman Language
Eighth Evening
Romans of the New World—Mr. Barnum—Jenny Lind's Trip to America
Ninth Evening
The Paris Opera and London's Opera Houses
Tenth Evening
On the Present State of Music—The Tradition of Tack—A Victim of Tack
Eleventh Evening [A Masterpiece]
Twelfth Evening
Suicide from Enthusiasm
Thirteenth Evening
Spontini, a Biographical Sketch
Fourteenth Evening
Operas off the Assembly Line—The Problem of Beauty—Schiller's Mary Stuart—A Visit to Tom Thumb
Fifteenth Evening
Another Vexation of Kleiner the Elder's
Sixteenth Evening
Musical and Phrenological Studies—Nightmares—The Puritans of Sacred Music—Paganini
Seventeenth Evening [The Barber of Seville]
Eighteenth Evening
Charles Leveled against the Author's Criticism—Analysis of The Lighthouse—The Piano Possessed
Nineteenth Evening [Don Giovanni]
Twentieth Evening
Historical Gleanings: Napoleon's Odd Susceptibility—His Musical Judgment—Napoleon and Lesueur—Napoleon and the Republic of San Marino
Twenty-first Evening
The Study of Music
Twenty-second Evening [Iphigenia in Tauris]
Twenty-third Evening
Gluck and the Conservatory in Naples—A Saying of Durante's
Twenty-fourth Evening [Les Huguenots]
Twenty-fifth Evening
Euphonia, or the Musical City
The Farewell Dinner
Second Epilogue
Corsino's Letter to the Author—The Author's Reply to Corsino—Beethoven and His Three Styles—Beethoven's Statue at Bonn—Mébul—Conestabile on Paganini—Vincent Wallace

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