Music GCSE: Saint-Saëns and developments in French composition

Howard Goodall looks at the way music changed following the death of Richard Wagner in 1883.

French composers such as Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck, Gabriel Fauré, Erik Satie and Charles-Marie Widor brought in fresh developments that contrasted with the long, powerful and complex works of the great German composer.

Goodall also looks at the revival of Bach at this time. Features excerpts from Pavane by Fauré, Organ Symphony No. 5 by Windor and Gymnopédie No.1 by Satie.

This clip is from the series Howard Goodall's Story of Music.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to develop students' understanding of compositional techniques when writing for the piano and organ.

Ask students to compare the music by the different composers mentioned in the clip and analyse their differences and similarities.

They could also think about why so many of these musical works are still popular and widely used today.

Curriculum Notes

This topic is relevant to, GCSE, AS Level and Higher Music in the areas of music history, notation, composition, music theory and understanding styles.

More from Howard Goodall's Story of Music:

Notation and melodic movement
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Harmony, intervals, triads and cadences
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Harmony, dissonance and an introduction to opera
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Key signatures, equal temperament and the 12-tone tuning system
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Handel, the pianoforte and oratorio
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Mozart, melodic writing and the symphony
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Haydn, symphonies and melodic writing
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A profile of Beethoven
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Franz Liszt, symphonic poems and orchestral music
Debussy, world music and impressionism
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Shostakovich and the effects of Nazi rule on composers
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Minimalism and the advance of music technology
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Stravinsky, Russian music and modernism
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Blues and ragtime
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