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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Monday, October 15, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Sir John Eliot Gardiner by Steve J. Sherman, Simon Callow by P. Keightley / Lebrecht
Obsession, madness, murder, and redemption are portrayed in the richly Romantic music—performed on period instruments—of Berlioz. His Symphonie fantastique is a phantasmagoric tale that depicts an opium overdose, nightmares of murder, a guillotine execution, and a terrifying Witches’ Sabbath. Berlioz called his rarely heard Lélio a “conclusion and complement” to the Symphonie fantastique. Lélio uses spoken narration, vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra—including two pianists performing on one instrument—to tell of the Symphonie hero’s awaking from the nightmare, his musings on art and criticism, and his ultimate triumph as a composer.

Part of: Orchestral Masterworks

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is also performing October 14.


Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Artistic Director and Conductor
Simon Callow, Narrator
Michael Spyres, Tenor
Ashley Riches, Bass-Baritone
National Youth Choir of Scotland
Christopher Bell, Artistic Director


Symphonie fantastique
Ernst Young - Building a better working world

Sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP

This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for choral music established by S. Donald Sussman in memory of Judith Arron and Robert Shaw.

At a Glance

This program revisits a crucial moment in the history of the avant-garde: an 1832 performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique followed by its “conclusion and complement,” Lélio. The Symphonie fantastique is a revolutionary work that has become one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire; Lélio is a multi-genre extravaganza for orchestra, singers, chorus, piano, and narrator that is rarely heard today, but was regarded by Berlioz’s contemporaries as the more novel and important of the two works. Both are subjective musical autobiographies based on love obsessions, one depicting seduction and drug-induced hallucination, the other a recovery and “return to life” through the healing power of art. Both works inaugurated an aesthetic based on hallucinatory colors, unusual timbres, sudden shifts in mood and dynamics, and surreal structures—a “psychological” music that abandoned classical models and established new ones. These works are at once specimens of pure Romanticism and—in their dissonance, rhythmic displacement, and emphasis on sound for its own sake—a forecast of modernism.

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