Transitioning from romance to mélodie: An Analysis of Hector Berlioz’s La captive
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In the eighteenth century, French art song was dominated by the romance, which was simple in its construction and set strophic poems that dealt with love and gallantry. After the Lieder of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) were introduced into France, a desire for a more developed and expressive French art song was stirred. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was one of the first composers to call these new songs mélodies. However, labeling vocal works from this period as exclusively romance or mélodie is difficult, because the two styles have similar characteristics. This thesis explores Berlioz’s transformation from the romance to the mélodie through four revisions of the song, La captive. His setting of La captive is then compared to settings of the same poem by his contemporaries—as well as other songs by Berlioz—in order to demonstrate Berlioz’s evolutionary compositional style.