Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, 5th movement, Dies Irae

Symphonie Fantastique

Melody

The Dies Irae theme is quoted and varied in 3 main ways.

  1. Bars 1 and 21: transposed down a minor second and the intervals adapted and the key was changed to C minor.
  2. Bars 21 to 31: starting on the second beat, transposed up two octaves while the key remains the same (in C minor)
  3. Dies Irae theme delivered complete and the key stays the same.

Texture

The Dies Irae theme is quoted and varied by instrumentation and texture.

  1. Dies Irae theme is played by the bassoons and tuba in unison and in octaves accompanied by the bells.
  2. Dies Irae theme is played by the horns and trombones.
  3. Dies Irae theme shared between various instruments (woodwinds and strings) of the orchestra in a homophonic texture with accompaniment by the bassoons, tuba, bells, cellos, basses, and bass drums.

Harmony

The Dies Irae theme is harmonized in various ways.

  1. The Dies Irae theme is accompanied by octaves in C minor in the bells
  2. The Dies Irae theme in the melody is accompanied by octaves in the cellos and basses.

Rhythm

The rhythm of the Dies Irae theme is varied in 3 different ways.

  1. The rhythm of the Dies Irae theme is evenly played in dotted minims.
  2. The Dies Irae theme is repeated with shortened note values (in dotted crotchets).
  3. The rhythm of the Dies Irae theme is played in a quirky 6/8 rhythm.

Form

The Dies Irae is shown in 3 variations and occurs as a basis of the dance in the 5th movement.

  1. The Dies Irae theme occurs as the theme of the opening and occurs several times throughout the section.
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