While the orchestral forces required for the Te Deum are by no means as titanic as those of the Requiem, the work does call for an organ which can compete on equal terms with the rest of the orchestra. It lasts approximately fifty minutes and derives its text from the traditional Latin Te Deum, although Berlioz made some changes to word order for dramatic purposes.
The Te Deum was originally conceived as the climax of a grand symphony celebrating Napoleon Bonaparte. The finished work was dedicated to Albert, Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria. Some of the material used by Berlioz in the piece was originally written for his Messe Solennelle of 1824, thought to have been destroyed by the composer but rediscovered in 1991. The first performance of the work was on 30 April 1855, at the Church of Saint-Eustache, Paris; Berlioz conducted an ensemble of 900 or 950 performers.
More pieces by Berlioz
- L'enfance du Christ: Selection
- Le carnaval romain