Hector Berlioz, born Louis-Hector Berlioz, was a French composer, conductor, and music critic. He was born on December 11, 1803, in La Côte-Saint-André, a small town in southeastern France. Berlioz is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential composers of the Romantic period. His music was characterized by its emotional intensity, vivid orchestration, and imaginative use of programmatic elements. Berlioz grew up in a musical family and showed early talent as a musician. His father, a respected physician, initially wanted him to pursue a medical career. However, Berlioz's passion for music led him to study composition and music theory in Paris. Despite facing financial difficulties and opposition from his father, he persevered and gained admission to the prestigious Paris Conservatoire in 1826.