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
Tournoiement (Melodies Persanes, Op 26)
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Tournoiement (Melodies Persanes, Op 26)

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Camille Saint‐Saëns
Phaëton, Op 39
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Phaëton, Op 39
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Oboe Sonata, Op. 166
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Oboe Sonata, Op. 166
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor, Op 22 (2nd mvt)
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Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor, Op 22 (2nd mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op 28
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Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op 28
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Les titans, Op 71 No 2
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Les titans, Op 71 No 2

Les titans, Op 71 No 2

Ensemble
Lamentabile Consort
Singer
Jan Stromberg
Gunnar Andersson
Bertil Marcusson
Olle Skold
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Africa Fantasie, Op 89
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Africa Fantasie, Op 89
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Concerto no. 5 in F major Op.103 (Egyptian) for piano and orchestra: 3rd mvt
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Concerto no. 5 in F major Op.103 (Egyptian) for piano and orchestra: 3rd mvt
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Violin Concerto No 3 In B Minor Op 61 - 2nd mvt: Andantino quasi allegretto
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Violin Concerto No 3 In B Minor Op 61 - 2nd mvt: Andantino quasi allegretto
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Gigue, Op 135 No 6 (Six Studies for Piano Left Hand)
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Gigue, Op 135 No 6 (Six Studies for Piano Left Hand)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Allegro appassionato in C sharp minor Op 70
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Allegro appassionato in C sharp minor Op 70
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Havanaise, Op 83
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Havanaise, Op 83
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Danse macabre, op. 40
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Danse macabre, op. 40

Danse macabre, op. 40

Orchestra
Sao Paulo State Orchestra
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Concerto no. 5 in F major Op.103 (Egyptian) for piano and orch: 1st mvt
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Concerto no. 5 in F major Op.103 (Egyptian) for piano and orch: 1st mvt
Camille Saint‐Saëns
My Heart At Thy Sweet Voice, arr. for piano trio
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My Heart At Thy Sweet Voice, arr. for piano trio
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Danse Macabre
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Danse Macabre
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 'Organ Symphony' (3rd mvt)
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Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 'Organ Symphony' (3rd mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Concerto for piano and orchestra no.5 in F major Op.103, "Egyptian"
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Concerto for piano and orchestra no.5 in F major Op.103, "Egyptian"
Camille Saint‐Saëns
The Swan (The Carnival Of The Animals)
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The Swan (The Carnival Of The Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
La muse et le poète, Op 132
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La muse et le poète, Op 132
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
Ave Maria
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Ave Maria
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Danse Macabre (arr. Lemare)
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Danse Macabre (arr. Lemare)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, Op 167 (4th mvt)
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Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, Op 167 (4th mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Valse-caprice in A flat major, Op 76, 'Wedding Cake'
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Valse-caprice in A flat major, Op 76, 'Wedding Cake'
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Papillons for voice and piano/orchestra
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Papillons for voice and piano/orchestra
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Valse-Caprice, d'après 'l'Etude en forme de valse'
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Valse-Caprice, d'après 'l'Etude en forme de valse'
Camille Saint‐Saëns
La Muse et le poète, Op 132
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La Muse et le poète, Op 132
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Calme des nuits, Op 68 No 1
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Calme des nuits, Op 68 No 1
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Le rouet d'Omphale
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Le rouet d'Omphale
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Clarinet Sonata in E flat, Op. 167
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Clarinet Sonata in E flat, Op. 167
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Les Cloches de Las Palmas, Op.111 no.4
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Les Cloches de Las Palmas, Op.111 no.4
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
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Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Introduction and Royal March of the Lion (Carnival of the Animals)
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Introduction and Royal March of the Lion (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Danse macabre, Op 40
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Danse macabre, Op 40

Danse macabre, Op 40

Ensemble
Ouellet-Murray Duo
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Etude in D flat, Op 52, No 6 (Etude en forme de valse)
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Etude in D flat, Op 52, No 6 (Etude en forme de valse)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
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The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
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
Suite Algerienne: iii. Reverie du Soir
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Suite Algerienne: iii. Reverie du Soir
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bassoon Sonata - movement 3
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Bassoon Sonata - movement 3
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Hens and Roosters (Carnival of the Animals)
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Hens and Roosters (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
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Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
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
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op 28
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Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op 28
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Le Carnaval des animaux
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Le Carnaval des animaux
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