Camille Saint‐Saëns
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1835-10-09
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Camille Saint‐Saëns

Camille Saint‐Saëns Biography (BBC)

Born less than a decade after the death of Beethoven, and still composing three years after that of Debussy, Saint-Saëns lived through the Romantic movement as a Classicist of boundless skill, energy and knowledge. His prolific output and his artistic beliefs held firm to timeless principles of beauty and form. As a result his music never seemed to grow old-fashioned (except to card-carrying Wagnerians) and by the end, when a generation of neo-Classicists - including Stravinsky and Poulenc - was on the rise and Saint-Saëns had turned to elegantly elliptical woodwind sonatas, it had started to sound contemporary all over again.

He had been a Parisian child prodigy, entering the Conservatoire at 13 to study organ and composition. His fluency stayed with him as his abilities flowered. An inquiring mind developed, taking in lasting interests from literature to astronomy. His five piano concertos show his characteristic qualities at their finest: suave melody and incisive articulation, orchestral clarity and colour, an often original use of conventional forms, and an expressive idiom that lives at the nerve-ends, generating unstoppable verve and, occasionally, great intensity, without lingering over the more profound moments.

These qualities fed into his operas, though here a greater capacity for spacious heart-searching would have been invaluable. New works of his were regularly staged, but his only lasting success was the relatively early Samson et Dalila, in which erotic obsession and dynamic action could carry the show. It was first produced (in 1877) not in opera-mad Paris, but by his friend Liszt in Weimar. The friendship bore fruit both ways, because Saint-Saëns adopted Liszt's genre of the symphonic poem and then used its methods of thematic transformation in his Third Symphony (the 'Organ', premiered in London in 1886), itself one of the founding masterpieces of a new French symphonic tradition. Ever he wit, he immediately used one of the most striking textures in his symphony for the 'Aquarium' of The Carnival of the Animals - though he banned public performance of the work in his lifetime.

Within the French musical world Saint-Saëns was an effective and - for all his later loathing of Debussy's music - a generally progressive influence. He was the driving force behind the Société Nationale de Musique, formed in 1871 to promote French instrumental music. The tragedy of his life was personal: emotional repression, a failed marriage and the early deaths of his two sons.

Profile © Robert Maycock

Camille Saint‐Saëns Biography (Wikipedia)

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (1863), the Second Piano Concerto (1868), the First Cello Concerto (1872), Danse macabre (1874), the opera Samson and Delilah (1877), the Third Violin Concerto (1880), the Third ("Organ") Symphony (1886) and The Carnival of the Animals (1886).

Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy; he made his concert debut at the age of ten. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire he followed a conventional career as a church organist, first at Saint-Merri, Paris and, from 1858, La Madeleine, the official church of the French Empire. After leaving the post twenty years later, he was a successful freelance pianist and composer, in demand in Europe and the Americas.

As a young man, Saint-Saëns was enthusiastic for the most modern music of the day, particularly that of Schumann, Liszt and Wagner, although his own compositions were generally within a conventional classical tradition. He was a scholar of musical history, and remained committed to the structures worked out by earlier French composers. This brought him into conflict in his later years with composers of the impressionist and dodecaphonic schools of music; although there were neoclassical elements in his music, foreshadowing works by Stravinsky and Les Six, he was often regarded as a reactionary in the decades around the time of his death.

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Camille Saint‐Saëns Performances & Interviews


Camille Saint‐Saëns Tracks

Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival of The Animals: The Swan
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Carnival of The Animals: The Swan

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Camille Saint‐Saëns
Phaëton, Op 39
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Phaëton, Op 39
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Oboe Sonata in D major
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Oboe Sonata in D major
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Septet in E flat major, Op.65 (4th mvt)
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Septet in E flat major, Op.65 (4th mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Le rouet d'Omphale, Op. 31, R. 169
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Le rouet d'Omphale, Op. 31, R. 169
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Mazurka No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 66
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Mazurka No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 66
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Valse nonchalante
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Valse nonchalante
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
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Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival Of The Animals: XIV. Finale
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Carnival Of The Animals: XIV. Finale
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Orient et Occident, Op 25
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Orient et Occident, Op 25
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony in A major (4th mvt)
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Symphony in A major (4th mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony No 3 in C minor Op 78 (Organ symphony)
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Symphony No 3 in C minor Op 78 (Organ symphony)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Sonate op. 168, III. Molto adagio - Allegro moderato
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Sonate op. 168, III. Molto adagio - Allegro moderato
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Havanaise for violin and orchestra, Op 83
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Havanaise for violin and orchestra, Op 83
Camille Saint‐Saëns
La princesse jaune, Op. 30, R. 287: Overture
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La princesse jaune, Op. 30, R. 287: Overture
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Danse macabre
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Danse macabre
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice sur des airs danois et russes Op.79 for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano
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Caprice sur des airs danois et russes Op.79 for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Mon Coeur SOuvre A Ta Voix Samson And Delilah
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Mon Coeur SOuvre A Ta Voix Samson And Delilah
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival of the Animals
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Carnival of the Animals
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
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Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods (The Carnival of the Animals)
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The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods (The Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs, Op 79
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Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs, Op 79
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium
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Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium
Camille Saint‐Saëns
The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
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The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 44: II. Allegro vivace - Andante - Allegro
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Piano Concerto No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 44: II. Allegro vivace - Andante - Allegro
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 33 (3rd mvt)
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Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 33 (3rd mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice d'apres l'etude en forme de valse de Saint-Saens
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Caprice d'apres l'etude en forme de valse de Saint-Saens
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival of The Animals: The Swan
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Carnival of The Animals: The Swan
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Concerto no. 1 in A minor Op.33 for cello and orchestra
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Concerto no. 1 in A minor Op.33 for cello and orchestra
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Introduction and rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra, Op.28
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Introduction and rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra, Op.28
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Extase
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Extase
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Ave Maria
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Ave Maria
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Marche militaire française (Suite algérienne)
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Marche militaire française (Suite algérienne)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Carnival of the Animals: XIII. Le Cygne (The Swan)
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Carnival of the Animals: XIII. Le Cygne (The Swan)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Guitares et mandolines
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Guitares et mandolines
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Tournoiement
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Tournoiement
Camille Saint‐Saëns
La brise
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La brise
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Le rossignol
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Le rossignol
Camille Saint‐Saëns
La coccinelle
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La coccinelle
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Marquise, vous souvenez-vous?
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Marquise, vous souvenez-vous?
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Sonata for bassoon and piano (Op.168) in G major
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Sonata for bassoon and piano (Op.168) in G major
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto No 5 'Egyptian' Op 103 (3rd mvt)
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Piano Concerto No 5 'Egyptian' Op 103 (3rd mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Mon cœur s'ouvre a ta voix
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Mon cœur s'ouvre a ta voix
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78, 'Organ Symphony' (Finale)
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Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78, 'Organ Symphony' (Finale)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Aquarium (Carnival of the Animals)
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Aquarium (Carnival of the Animals)

Aquarium (Carnival of the Animals)

Orchestra
Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
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Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Trio No 1 in F major, Op 18
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Piano Trio No 1 in F major, Op 18
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