Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and by Berlioz, Hugh Macdonald

By Berlioz, Hugh Macdonald

Berlioz's Orchestration Treatise (1843) is a vintage textbook by way of a grasp of the orchestra, which has now not been to be had in English translation for over a century. this can be a ebook by means of and approximately Berlioz, because it offers not just a brand new translation but additionally an intensive observation on his textual content, facing the tools of Berlioz's time and evaluating his guideline along with his perform. it's therefore a learn of the excessive craft of the main precise orchestrator of the 19th century.

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Berlioz’s Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary

Berlioz's Orchestration Treatise (1843) is a vintage textbook via a grasp of the orchestra, which has no longer been to be had in English translation for over a century. it is a e-book by means of and approximately Berlioz, because it presents not just a brand new translation but additionally an intensive statement on his textual content, facing the tools of Berlioz's time and evaluating his guide together with his perform.

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27 The complexity of brass instruments of the day almost certainly required Sax’s advice, and his magnificent exposition of the trombone and its uses seems to have had inside help, perhaps from Dieppo, the leading trombonist of the age. He was fully aware of a precept stated clearly twice in the guitar section: that only a player of the instrument can write for it (and, by implication, about it) with competence. Yet he was capable of error, even when writing about his own instrument, the guitar, and we should approach the sections on the violin and the piano, for example, with caution since he had no personal expertise to draw upon.

These include the incomplete operas Les francs-juges and La nonne sanglante, and Berlioz’s orchestration of Meyer’s Marche marocaine. A note on the translation For Berlioz the term ‘instrumentation’ came more easily to his pen than the newer-sounding ‘orchestration’, just as ‘orchestration’ is a more familiar English word than ‘instrumentation’. Both appear in Berlioz’s title, although he did not expound the difference between them. Mindful of Ravel’s insistence that the two terms are entirely different, I have retained ‘instrumentation’ for ‘instrumentation’ and ‘orchestration’ for ‘orchestration’ throughout.

Many excerpts have been reduced to focus on the orchestral point that Berlioz wished to illustrate. In compensation I have excerpted a number of works, by Sacchini, Spontini and Weber, for example, which Berlioz mentioned but did not print. In some cases where Berlioz seems to have been quoting music from memory I have revised his text to match the composer’s. Readers who seek the full texts of the Treatise are again referred to Bloom’s edition. The musical examples in the text (some of which amount to fragmentary compositions) have been grouped in sets where there is some advantage in doing so.

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