Hector Berlioz made three stays in Nice which he liked ardently. In 1831, the musician, winner of the prize of Rome, was in Italy when he learned that his fiancée, Camille Moke, was leaving him to get married to another man. Mad with dispair, Berlioz decided to return to Paris to kill the unfaithful. Along the way, he tried to commit suicide in Genoa, then stopped in Nice at the end of April, 1831. Dazzled by the beauty of the site and the sweetness of the climate, he rent a room in a house corresponding to the current Swiss Hotel at the end of the Ponchettes. He found a new mental stability " And I inhale the tepid and embalmed air in deep breaths; here, life and joy run up swiftly (....) I stay in Nice a whole month roaming in woods of orange trees, plunging in the sea, sleeping on the heaths of the mountains of Villefranche (...). I write the Opening of king Lear, I sing, I believe in God. Convalescence. And so I spent in Nice the twenty more beautiful days of my life ". But the police, intrigued by the ceaseless movements of Belioz and refusing to believe that he could compose in the nature, without a piano, took him for a spy and expelled him.

Berlioz returned to Nice in 1844. Tired and suffering from a jaundice, he came to rest, he found a flat in the tower Bellanda and enjoyed a sight which delighted him. He composed there the Privateer. In March, 1868, exhausted by his hectic life, he came once more to restore his health in Nice. But, too weak, he fell down twice in Monaco and in Nice. He had to return to Paris where he died one year later.

Ralph SCHOR

 

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