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Lot n° 35

BERLIOZ Hector (1803-1869).

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L.A.S. "Hector Berlioz" (minute), [La Côte Saint-André mid-July 1824], to Jean-François LESUEUR; 2 pages folio with numerous erasures and corrections. Beautiful draft from the young Berlioz to his master Lesueur, expressing his admiration and gratitude, and speaking of his early works. [The composer Jean-François LESUEUR (1760-1837) was, as Berlioz states at the head of his draft, "member of the Institut", "Superintendent of the King's Chapel" and professor at the Conservatoire. In early 1823 Berlioz had been admitted as a private student of Lesueur, against the advice of his mother, who was opposed to his musical vocation. Returning to his native town for the summer vacations in 1824, Berlioz had to leave secretly on 25 July for Paris, where he was to compose his Messe solennelle, which was premiered at Saint-Roch on 25 July 1825. In addition to this Mass, he mentions in this letter his oratorio (lost) Le Passage de la Mer Rouge, which are among his earliest compositions]. "For a long time I had been tormented by the desire to write to you and I did not dare to do so, held back by a multitude of considerations which now seem to me all more ridiculous than the others; I feared to bother you with my letters, and that the desire to send you some, did not seem to you to have its source in the self-love which a young man must naturally feel, in corresponding with one of those famous and rare men who astonish their compatriots as much as they honor their country by their Genius and their knowledge. But I said to myself: this rare man to whom I am burning to write will perhaps find my letters less troublesome, if the art on which he spreads so much brilliance is the subject. This great musician has kindly allowed me to follow his lessons, and if ever [the pupils were in a way the children of their master] the excessive patience and kindness of a master, the gratitude and (I dare say) the filial love of his pupils have earned him the title of Father over them, I am one of his children. I was received by my family as I expected, that is to say with great eagerness; I did not have to endure any of those unfortunate and useless admonitions from my mother, which only upset us both; however, as a precaution, my father recommended that I never speak of music in front of her. On the contrary, I talk about it very often with him. I told him about the curious discoveries you were kind enough to show me in your work on ancient music; I could not persuade him that the ancients knew harmony; he was full of the ideas of Rousseau and other writers who have given credence to the opposite opinion; But when I quoted to him the Latin passage, which I believe is by Pliny the Elder, in which there are details on the way of accompanying voices and on the facility that the orchestra can have to paint the passions by means of different rhythms from those of the voice, he fell to the ground and admitted to me that there was nothing to reply to such an explanation. However, he told me, I would like to have the work in my hands to be convinced. I haven't done anything since I've been here, at first I wasn't in control of my time, during the first few weeks the visits to be received and the visits to be made, in a small town where everyone knows each other, absorbed almost all of it; Then when I wanted to go to this mass I told you about, I remained so cold, so frozen while reading the Creed and the Kirie, that I was convinced that I could never do anything bearable in such a state of mind, so I gave it up. I have begun to rework this oratorio of the Passage of the Red Sea which I showed you seven or eight months ago and which I now find terribly muddled in certain places. I hope to be able to have it performed at St. Roch when I return, which I believe will be before the first days of August. Until I have the pleasure of seeing you again, Sir, my father has asked me to be the interpreter of his feelings to you and to show you all his gratitude for the care you have lavished on me; you have no doubt, Sir, that I myself am aware of this, please accept my assurance with my respectful greetings. Your devoted servant and pupil"... Provenance : collection Auguste Chapot, then Alfred Dupont (I, 11-12..1956, n° 18). General correspondence, volume I, n° 26.

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