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Camille Saint-Saëns (Composer, Arranger)

Born: October 9, 1835 - Paris, France
Died: December 16, 1921 - Algiers

The French composer, pianist and organist, Camille Saint-Saëns, showed Mozartian precocity as both a pianist and composer. He had childhood lessons with Stamaty and Boëly before entering the Conservatoire (1848), where Halévy was his teacher. His dazzling gifts early won him the admiration of Charles Gounod, Rossini, Berlioz and especially Franz Liszt, who hailed him as the world's greatest organist.

Camille Saint-Saëns was organist at the Madeleine from 1857 to 1875, and a teacher at the Ecole Niedermeyer, from 1861 to 1865, where Gabriel Fauré was among his devoted pupils. With only these professional appointments, he pursued a range of other activities, organizing concerts of F. Liszt's symphonic poems (then a novelty), reviving interest in older music (notably of J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel and Rameau), writing on musical, scientific and historical topics, travelling often and widely (in Europe, North Africa and South America) and composing prolifically; on behalf of new French music he co-founded the Société Nationale de Musique (1871).

A virtuoso pianist, Camille Saint-Saëns excelled in Mozart and was praised for the purity and grace of his playing. Similarly French characteristics of his conservative musical style - neat proportions, clarity, polished expression, elegant line – reside in his best compositions, the classically orientated sonatas (especially the first each for violin and cello), chamber music (Piano Quartet Op. 41), symphonies (No. 3, the Organ Symphony, 1886) and concertos (No. 4 for piano, No. 3 for violin). He also wrote 'exotic', descriptive or dramatic works, including four symphonic poems, in a style influenced by F. Liszt, using thematic transformation, and 13 operas, of which only Samson et Dalila (1877), with its sound structures, clear declamation and strongly appealing scenes, has held the stage. Le carnaval des animaux (1886) is a witty frolic; he forbade performances in his lifetime, 'Le cygne' apart. From the mid-1890's he adopted a more austere style, emphasizing the classical aspect of his aesthetic which, perhaps more than the music itself, influenced Gabriel Fauré and Ravel.

Best Known Works

Dramatic:
Samson et Dalila (1877)
Etienne Marcel (1879)
Henry VIII (1883)
Ascanio (1890)
9 others; incidental music for 6 plays; 1 ballet; 1 film score (1908)

Vocal:
Over 40 sacred works, including Le déluge, oratorio (1875)
c 40 secular choral works
c 140 songs
7 duets

Orchestral:
Symphony, A (c 1850)
Symphony No. 1 in E-flat major(1853)
Symphony Urbs Roma, in F major(1856)
Symphony No. 2 in A minor (1859)
Symphony No. 3 Organ in C minor (1886)
4 symphonic poems, including Danse macabre (1874)
4 overtures
Suite algérienne (1880)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major (1858)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor (1868)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major(1869)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor (1875)
Piano Concerto No. 5 Egyptian, in F major(1896)
3 Violin Concertos
2 Violoncello Concertos
16 other works with solo instrument/s, including Africa for piano & orchestra (1891), Caprice andalous for violin & orchestra (1904); Odalette for flute & orchestra (1920)

Chamber:
2 violin sonatas
2 violoncello sonatas
3 solo wind sonatas
2 string quartets
2 piano trios
Piano Quintet (1855)
Piano Quartet (1875)
Le carnaval des animaux (1886)

Keyboard:
c 45 ppiano works, inclusing mazurkas, waltzes, souvenirs; 3 sets of Etudes; Variations on a Theme of Beethoven, piano duo (1874); works for harmonium, organ
Other transcriptions, arrangements of works by other composers

Books, essays; Ecole buissonnière, memoirs (1913)




Source: San Francisco Symphony Website
Contributed by
Teddy Kaufman (May 2007)

Camille Saint-Saëns: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Meet the Composers: Camille Saint-Saëns (SF Symphony)
Camille Saint-Saëns (Wikipedia)
Camille Saint Saëns (Classical Music Pages)
Camille Saint-Saëns (Mauric Abravanel)
Camille Saint-Saëns Biography (Piano Paradise)
Camille Saint-Saëns (Britannica Online)

Camille Saint-Saëns (ICRAM) [French]
Camille Saint-Saën (Refnn musicologie) [French]
Camille Saint-Saëns - Biographie (Musphil) [French]
Camille Saint-Saëns (Robert Ostermeyer Musikedition) [German]

Bibliography

 

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Last update: ęDecember 8, 2013 ę15:21:02