General music theory
Azarova V.V. —
Oratorio-trilogy of Hector Berlioz “The Childhood of Christ” – the concept of eternity of Christian love
// PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal. – 2015. – ¹ 2.
– P. 1 - 96.
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Review: The subject of research in this article is the vocal-symphonic concept of the oratorio-trilogy by Hector Berlioz “The Childhood of Christ” Op. 25, which is being viewed as a prime example of creative thought of that era (middle of XIX century), and being examined in form of analysis of musical composition, musical dramaturgy, fundamental plots and characters of Christianity, as well as emotional-psychological side of the musical content. Based on examination of the letters and Mémoires of Hector Berlioz the article presents a hypothesis on the genesis of the creative concept of the oeuvre, and offers facts from the history of its creation and performance. The plot motifs of Berlioz’s poetic libretto presented as units of the overall structure of the creative text. The author analyzes the particular aspects of the oratorio-theatrical embodiment of the space-time spiritual concept of eternity of Christian love, examines the fusion of spiritual and secular elements within the semantics of the creative text, gives attention to the specificity of the composition, musical dramaturgy, principles of polyphonic thought of the composer, synthesis of genre elements (oratorio, symphony, mystery play, and others), and reveals the correlation between Berlioz’s innovative musical thinking and the creative practice of the psychological realism within the French art and literature of 1850’s. Research methodology:- Musical-philosophical hermeneutical reconstruction of the process of structuring the creative idea and the aspects of its realization within the programmatic vocal-symphonic concept of the oratorio-trilogy.- Analysis pertaining to the musical philosophy of the score of “The Childhood of Christ” as a creative canon, which reflected the phenomenon of the topology of the path- Analysis of the musical and aesthetical aspects of the psychological realism within intonation-dramaturgical development of the work.Scientific novelty of the research consists in:- Discovery of Berlioz’s individual approach towards the critical perception of Christianity in France during 1850’s- Analytical justification of the position that composer’s interpretation of the Christian spiritual values, including the eternity of Christian love, presented in the oratorio-trilogy of “The Childhood of Christ” is relevant in the XXI century- Determination of the musical and aesthetical phenomenon of realistic vocal intonation, which is in a state of development of psychological and critical realism in the French art and literature of 1850’s- Musical and philosophical understanding of the functionality of spiritual and semantical concepts of the Christian “storge” and Christian “agape” in the musical dramaturgy of these parts of the work: “Herod’s Dream”, “Flight into Egypt”, and “The Arrival at Sais”.Main conclusions:1. The specificity of composer’s individual understanding of the psychological mystery of communication between human soul and God is reflected in the deep structure of the oratorio-trilogy “The Childhood of Christ” – the concept of eternity of Christian love2. The perception on this concept is relevant for the modern Christian world, and prompts us to change our attitude towards the life and creative heritage of Berlioz3. “The Childhood of Christ” is a great example for the French composers of the XIX-XX centuries, who created oratorio-theatrical works and significant forms of vocal-symphonic music based on the synthesis of arts and genres; among them are works by Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, César Franck, Claude Debussy, Vincent d'Indy, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, and Olivier Messiaen.
Keywords: Berlioz, oratorio-trilogy, vocal-symphonic concept, Childhood of Christ, Christian love, genre synthesis, agape, storge, Narrator, musical dramaturgy
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