Sunday, November 01, 2009

Michael Tilson Thomas on Berlioz

Maryland Public television, on Nov. 1, 2009, broadcast a discussion by Michael Tilson Thomas of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique with the San Francisco Symphonye, followed by a performance of the work, lasting about 50 minutes.

Thomas’s comments included mention of Berlioz’s unrequited love. In a YouTube video, filmed around a pendulum, in which Thomas explains Berlioz’s feminine self-indulgence, a desire to make public theater of his own feelings. If Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” Berlioz thought “I feel, therefore I am” (how about “I love, therefore I am”, as in an All Saints Day sermon today.) There is an RCA CD of Thomas performing the work with the SFO, including excerpts from Lelio, as with this link. Lelio is interesting, being a choral piece describing the artist’s visions after taking a drug overdose out of despair, not a healthful concept, perhaps, but great Romantic art now. Columbia had a recording of Lelio in the 1960s.

The concert appears to have been part of Thomas’s “Keeping Score” series on Sept. 30, 2009, link.

I attended a Michael Tilson Thomas youth concert in New York in the fall of 1973, and I think I typed a letter to him from my apartment shortly afterward.

Wikimedia attribution link for drawing of Berlioz choir, in public domain.

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