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Donald Macleod discusses how in 1908 Saint-Saens made history with one of the first-ever original film scores, written for the silent movie The Assassination of the Duke of Guise.

As the new century dawns, Saint-Saëns composes one of the first-ever original film scores.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

The "Exposition Universelle", or World's Fair, in Paris in 1900 marked an exciting, thrusting new century ? one of electricity, innovation in art and music, and new ideas. But the 65-year-old Saint-Saëns was no relic. In 1908 he made history with one of the first ever original film scores ? written for the silent movie, "The Assassination of the Duke of Guise". We'll hear that pioneering work, as well as a very rare cantata composed to mark the new century, before one of the composer's most beloved concertante works: his Second Cello Concerto, performed by Steven Isserlis.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Birds - Carnival Of The Animals

    Performer: Leonid Hambro. Performer: Jascha Zayde. Orchestra: André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra. Conductor: André Kostelanetz.
    • PHILIPS: NBR6001.
    • 1.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    La Nuit, cantata for soprano, female chorus and orchestra, Op.114

    Singer: Natalie Dessay. Choir: Vittoria D'Ile De France. Orchestra: Orchestre national de France. Conductor: Jacques Mercier.
    • RCA RED LABEL: 177747.
    • 10.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Violons Dans Le Soir

    Singer: François Le Roux. Performer: Krysia Osostowicz. Performer: Graham Johnson.
    • HYPERION: CDA66856.
    • 20.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Cello Concerto no.2, Op.119

    Performer: Steven Isserlis. Orchestra: NBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach.
    • RCA: 09026635182.
    • 1-2.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    L'Assassinat Du Duc De Guise, Op.128: Deuxieme Tableau; Troisieme Tableau

    Ensemble: Ensemble Musique Oblique.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI: HMC 901472.
    • 6-7.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Pianists; Fossils - Carnival Of The Animals

    Performer: Leonid Hambro. Performer: Jascha Zayde. Orchestra: André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra. Conductor: André Kostelanetz.
    • PHILIPS: NBR6001.
    • 2.

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