Julian Rushton, 22 June 1989
Berlioz has not always been badly served by his biographers. True, there have been sensationalised lives, while hacks have trotted out ancient simplifications about his extravagance, his early creative decline, and, above all, about the unreliability of his Memoirs. Such biographers only matched the musical commentators, for many of whom Berlioz was an eccentric with a poor technique; even his best works, dependent on hit-or-miss inspiration, appeared muddled in conception and patchy in execution. But on the whole, the music has taken more undeserved sniping than the man, culminating in the infamous article in the fifth edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians.