No artist’s achievement connects more directly with early experience than that of Berlioz. David Cairns draws on a wealth of family papers to recreate in authentic and intimate detail the provincial milieu of Berlioz’s boyhood, showing how the son of a village doctor was already transforming himself into the composer of the Fantastic Symphony. Berlioz’s desperate attempts to win his father’s approval for his vocation, his struggles to establish himself on the Parisian musical scene, and his passionate pursuit of love are all brought vividly to life in this first volume of David Cairns’s acclaimed biography, winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Music Award and the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year.
‘David Cairns has a wonderful story to tell and he tells it superbly well ... rich in detail and imbued with imaginative insights that stem from love. It is also written with an enviable blend of grace and energy.’
‘In David Cairns, Berlioz has found a biographer who shares his sense of scale. There is not a dull or redundant page in the whole book. Cairns has lived, breathed and dreamt Berlioz for more than twenty years. He has visited the places Berlioz visited and read the books Berlioz read ... You would no more want to read a slimmed-down version of this book than you would an abridged version of David Copperfield .’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Essential reading, not only for the ardent Berliozian but for anyone with an interest in the history of Romanticism.’ Guardian
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