Letters to the Princess
Éditions de l’Herne
Lettres à la princesse gathers together in one volume the letters Hector Berlioz wrote to the Prussian Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. After meeting in Weimar through the Princess’ lover Franz Liszt, Carolyne and Berlioz struck up a rich correspondence spanning fifteen years from 1852 to 1867. Berlioz’s letters open an invaluable window into the composer’s world, shedding light on his personal ambitions, world vision, theories of art, and creative process. This collection is especially unique in that it presents a step-by-step description of the conception, composition, and ultimately disappointing staging and reception of one of Berlioz’s greatest operas, Les Troyens, that “great devil of a work you [Princess Carloyne] made me write.” Berlioz’s style is marked by what he calls “la divagation,” or a breezy, engaging conversational tone praised by the likes of Flaubert and Roland Barthes. Taken together, the letters both constitute a fascinating epistolary novel and paint an intimate portrait of the composer, the writer, and the man.
Hector Berlioz : The preface, written by Christian Wasselin, editor-in-chief of Fantastique (Radio France), longtime contributor to Opéra International, and author of several books on Berlioz, provides a concise historical, personal, and musical framework for the correspondence. He also supplies numerous and helpful explanatory notes.