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
Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor Op. 22: 3rd mvt: Presto
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Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor Op. 22: 3rd mvt: Presto

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Camille Saint‐Saëns
Tarantelle Op.6
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Tarantelle Op.6
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op 61
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Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op 61

Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op 61

Orchestra
National Youth Orchestra of France
Conductor
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
Saint-Saën's Piano concerto number 2 in G minor, second movement
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Saint-Saën's Piano concerto number 2 in G minor, second movement
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice Andalous
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Caprice Andalous
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian - iii) Molto allegro
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Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian - iii) Molto allegro
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bassoon Sonata in G major, Op.168
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Bassoon Sonata in G major, Op.168
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor Op. 22: 3rd mvt: Presto
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Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor Op. 22: 3rd mvt: Presto
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Six Études, Op. 111: No. 4 - Les cloches de Las Palmas
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Six Études, Op. 111: No. 4 - Les cloches de Las Palmas
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Etude en forme de valse (6 Studies Op.52)
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Etude en forme de valse (6 Studies Op.52)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto no.2 Op.22 (2nd mvt)
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Piano Concerto no.2  Op.22 (2nd mvt)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Barcarolle, Op 108
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Barcarolle, Op 108
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Havanaise (Op 83)
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Havanaise (Op 83)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat: 3rd mvt
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Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat: 3rd mvt
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Septet in E flat major, Op 65 (Préambule)
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Septet in E flat major, Op 65 (Préambule)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Tarantelle, Op 6
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Tarantelle, Op 6
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
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Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Africa Fantasie, Op.89
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Africa Fantasie, Op.89
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice for violin and piano, arr. Ysaye after Saint-Saens
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Caprice for violin and piano, arr. Ysaye after Saint-Saens
Camille Saint‐Saëns
The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
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The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Finale from Symphony No.3 - 'Organ'
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Finale from Symphony No.3 - 'Organ'
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor - Finale
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Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor - Finale
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Kangaroos (Carnival of the Animals)
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Kangaroos (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Wild Donkeys (Carnival of the Animals)
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Wild Donkeys (Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Africa Fantasie, Op 89
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Africa Fantasie, Op 89
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
The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals
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The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony No 3 in C minor Op78 (4th mvt)
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Symphony No 3 in C minor Op78 (4th mvt)

Symphony No 3 in C minor Op78 (4th mvt)

Orchestra
Orchestra de la Suisse Romande
Conductor
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
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Sarabande et rigaudon, Op 93 (Rigaudon)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Tarantelle for flute, clarinet and orchestra, Op 6
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Tarantelle for flute, clarinet and orchestra, Op 6
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78 (Finale)
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Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78 (Finale)
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
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
Oboe Sonata in D major, Op 166
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Oboe Sonata in D major, Op 166
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Introduction and rondo capriccioso Op.28
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Introduction and rondo capriccioso Op.28

Introduction and rondo capriccioso Op.28

Performer
Lea Birringer
Esther Birringer
Last played on
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
Danse macabre, Op 40
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Danse macabre, Op 40
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Allegro appassionato in B minor, Op 43
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Allegro appassionato in B minor, Op 43
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Phaëton, Op 39
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Phaëton, Op 39
Camille Saint‐Saëns
'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix' (Samson and Delilah)
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'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix' (Samson and Delilah)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Mon coeur s'ouvre from Samson et Dalila (arr for trumpet & orchestra)
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Mon coeur s'ouvre from Samson et Dalila (arr for trumpet & orchestra)
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Samson and Delilah - 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix'
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Samson and Delilah - 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix'
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Parysatis, Airs de ballet
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Parysatis, Airs de ballet
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Morceau de concert for harp & orchestra in G major, Op 154
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Morceau de concert for harp & orchestra in G major, Op 154

Morceau de concert for harp & orchestra in G major, Op 154

Performer
Suzanna Klintcharova
Orchestra
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor
Dimitar Manolov
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Romance in E major Op.67 for horn and piano
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Romance in E major Op.67 for horn and piano
Camille Saint‐Saëns
Caprice after Etude en forme de valse, Op.52`6
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Caprice after Etude en forme de valse, Op.52`6
Camille Saint‐Saëns
DANSE MACABRE
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DANSE MACABRE
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