Hector Berlioz: France's Musical Maverick

Ref: C2341701

Berlioz remains something of a paradox – the wild innovator and romantic artist-hero of popular legend who was also classicist; brilliantly imaginative in his handling of the orchestra and his approach to musical form, and equally gifted with words (his memoirs are undoubtedly the most entertaining ever written by a composer); unafraid of thinking on a really grand scale when the subject demanded it, but also capable of producing extraordinarily subtle and delicate effects; above all, using his penetrating intelligence to cut through the conventions of the day in his passionate search for artistic truth. We shall explore all these aspects, and more, listening to and discussing recorded excerpts from his orchestral, vocal and choral works, and (including DVD where possible) operas, in an exhilarating ride through his compellingly unconventional life and career.

Course aim

The course aims to explore Berlioz' life and career, through listening to and discussing excerpts from a range of his work. Suitable for everyone, from complete newcomers to regular concert-goers

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify six major works by Berlioz
  • Identify his three main literary enthusiasms and describe their influence on his music
  • Describe in broad outline the scenario of one of his operas
  • Identify aspects of his innovative handling of the orchestra

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • You may wish to bring a folder for handouts, a notepad and pen.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Suggestions for further reading and the addresses of relevant websites will be included in the handouts for the first session. Relevant broadcasts and related live performances in the area will be brought to students' attention at each session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Topics for future courses will be discussed and decided in class.

Download full course information sheet

Hector Berlioz: France's Musical Maverick

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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