In Chapter 45 of his “Memoirs“ Berlioz wrote in some detail about the origins of “Harlod in Italie“, which was composed in response to a request from the great violinist Paganini. Berlioz first met him after his concert in Paris on 9 December 1832. “A few weeks after the concert which had re-established me, Paganini came to see me. He told me he had a Stradivarius viola, a marvellous instrument, which he wanted to play in public; but he lacked the right music. Would I write him a piece for it? “You are the only one I would trust with such a commission“, he said.“
Liszt attended the first and third performance of “Harold en Italie” in 1834, and soon after, on 9. April 1935, played the second movement as a solo piano item at the Hôtel de Ville. This was published in 1866. Liszt was able to write his arrangement of the full symphony for viola and piano as eventually publishes, not for piano solo.
Berlioz refused to publish the score and orchestral parts, mainly out of concern that the work should not be inadequately performed in his absence, until after his first two concert tours in Germany. All performances before 1848 were given from manuscript material.