Exploring Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique
Idee fixe is first introduced by flute and violin, and it starts from piano, crescendos to forte with other instruments and then come back to piano with various subtle dynamic changes, which presents a general image of Harriet as being elegant and attractive. It is played dolce with gentle and tender feeling, which also pictures Berlioz’s gradually aroused affection for Berlioz. In Reverie, Passions, idee fixe appears again near the end of the movement (“Passionate Frenzy”) with a faster tempo, different orchestration, dynamics and phrasing. Violins, instead of playing the idee fixe melody with other instruments, are played in fast moving eighth notes, creating an agitated mood. As for dynamics, this version of idee fixe is played in fortissimo and syncopated accents that drive the music, which further creates an uproar feeling, indicating Berlioz’s hot pursuit for Harriet. In the second movement “Ball”, the idee fixes is played in “Forbidden Glimpses”, first introduced by flute and oboe in a graceful waltz and then presented by flute and clarinet. The dynamics are changed to piano, pianissimo and to pianississimo. Besides, the cello and double bass are first played to mimic the feeling of heartbeats of Berlioz, and then they change to a single quarter note every measure, creating an effect of a vanishing excitement. In “Scene in the Fields”, the idee fixe appears in “Doubly Deceived” after bassoon played in an angry mood. The bassoon is constantly changing in dynamics and making conversations with lower strings in robust sounds. After the melody lines sustain at A flat, the keys are changed with climbing and lower strings, leading to climax, creating an anguished feeling. In “March to the Scaffold”, it appears in “One Final Thought” after march-like feelings beforehand. It has abrupt chords appear in fortissimo after the short soft introduction of the idee fixe melody,...