Festive parties and balls were common in Hector Berlioz’s day, and the atmosphere of such get-togethers was the inspiration for one of the movements from his famous Symphonie fantastique. The symphony depicts a fantastical story of an artist in love with a young woman and describes their ill-fated love affair. In the second movement, titled “A Ball”, the artist is in the midst of a huge party with waltzes and colorful sights and sounds, but all this means nothing as he continues to think of his beloved.
The Symphonie fantastique is thought of as a perfect example of art imitating life. Berlioz wrote the piece while he was in a relationship with a famous actress, Harriett Smithson, and she is the inspiration of the mysterious beloved featured in this celebrated work.