Moscow. January 1868. The Great Hall of the Nobles. Hector Berlioz conducts triumphant performances of Beethoven’s PastoralSymphony, as well as his own Symphonie Fantastiqueand Harold in Italy, the quasi-symphonic viola concerto based on Byron’s Childe Harold. Although no more than “a little white bird with pince-nez,” according to Rimsky-Korsakov who was there, the Russians took the desiccated Berlioz and his wild music to their hearts. Mily Balakirev prepared the chorus for the concerts, and at the banquet...

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