“There’s nothing to be done in this ghastly country, and I can’t leave it quickly enough. I’m waiting till the German translation of Faustis finished before setting forth to find cities more hospitable than our rascally Paris. Only barnyard fowls live happily on their own dung heaps.” With that, Hector Berlioz slammed the door on his native land, supposedly shutting up shop as a composer forever.

The year was 1846, and though the Parisian critics had...

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