CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS

Thanks to Bob Thayer,in his help in getting the photo

9th October 1835 --- 16th December 1921

Camille Saint-Saens(born 1835, Paris, France--died 1921, Algiers [Algeria]), composer chiefly remembered for his symphonic poems--the first of that genre to be written by a Frenchman--and for his opera Samson et Dalila. Saint-SaŽns was notable for his pioneering efforts on behalf of French music, and he was also a gifted pianist and organist, as well as a writer of criticism, poetry, essays, and plays. Of his concerti and symphonies, in which he adapted the virtuosity of Franz Liszt's style to French traditions of harmony and form, his Third Symphony is most often performed.

A child prodigy on the piano, Saint-SaŽns gave his first recital in 1846. He studied organ and composition at the Paris Conservatory, and in 1855 his First Symphony was performed. He became organist at the famed Church of the Madeleine in Paris in 1857, an association that lasted for 20 years. Liszt, whom he met about this time and with whom he formed an enduring friendship, described him as the finest organist in the world. From 1861 to 1865 he was professor of piano at the Niedermeyer School, where his pupils included Gabriel Faurť and Andrť Messager.

In 1871, after the Franco-Prussian War, he helped found the National Society of Music, which promoted performances of the most significant French orchestral works of the succeeding generation. In the same year, he produced his first symphonic poem, Le Rouet d'Omphale (Omphale's Spinning Wheel), which, with Danse Macabre, is the most frequently performed of his four such works. His opera Samson et Dalila, rejected in Paris because of the prejudice against portraying biblical characters on the stage, was given in German at Weimar in 1877, on the recommendation of Liszt. It was finally staged in Paris in 1890 at the Thť‚tre Eden and later became his most popular opera.

In 1878 Saint-SaŽns lost both of his sons, and three years later he separated from his wife. Over the following years, he undertook extensive tours throughout Europe, the United States, South America, the Middle East, and East Asia, performing his five piano concerti and other keyboard works and conducting his symphonic compositions. As a pianist he was admired by Richard Wagner for his brilliant technique and was the subject of a study by Marcel Proust. From about 1880 until the end of his life, his immense production covered all fields of dramatic and instrumental music. His Third Symphony (1886), dedicated to the memory of Liszt, made skilled use of the organ and two pianos. In the same year, he wrote Carnaval des Animaux (Carnival of Animals) for small orchestra, a humorous fantasy not performed during his lifetime that has since won considerable popularity as a work for young people's concerts. Among the best of his later works are the Fifth Piano Concerto (1895) and the Second Cello Concerto (1902).

Though he lived through the period of Wagner's influence, Saint-SaŽns remained unaffected by it and adhered to the classical models, upholding a conservative ideal of French music that emphasized polished craftsmanship and a sense of form. In his essays and memoirs he described the contemporary musical scene in a shrewd and often ironic manner.

Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica

George Pollen has sent me a description of Danse Macabre, both of us think it will be of some interest to you.

DANSE MACABRE by Saint-Saens.

The most popular of Saint-Saens' works, it was inspired by Henri Cazali's poem on the dance of the dead on Hallowe'en.
The music was first composed in the form of a song, and later re-written as a symphonic poem. At its first performance in 1875, it was too unconventional for the audience, but it gradually won such popularity that the composer adapted it for two pianos. Listz later rewrote the work for solo piano.
Saint-Saens employed discordant musical effects in order to conjure up the vision of the dance of the dead, including the use of the xylophone to represent the rattling of the skeletons.

The following is a free translation of the poem :

Moonbeams break fitfully through the ragged clouds. Twelve heavy strokes sound from the bell in the church tower. As the last stroke dies away, strange sounds are heard from the graveyard, and the light of the moon falls on a ghastly figure: it is Death, sitting on a tombstone, tuning his fiddle. Shrieks are heard from the graves around and the wind howls through the bare tree-tops.
The sinister notes of Death's mistuned violin call the dead forth from their graves, and clad in white shrouds, they flutter around in a demoniacal dance. The quiet of the churchyard is rent by hollow cries and horrible laughter. Wilder and wilder race the rattling skeletons round the figure of Death, as he beats time with his clacking skeleton foot.
Suddenly, as if seized by a terrible suspicion, they stop. In the icy wind, Death's notes cannot be heard. A tremor runs hrough the ranks of the dead. The grinning skulls are turned, as if listening, towards the pale moon. There is a sad interlude as a couple, killed on their wedding night, dance out a tragic memory of their once happy times.
But Death's goading notes once more shatter the silence, and once again the dead hurl themselves into the dance, wilder than before. The howling wind joins in the ghastly choir, and moans in the bare linden trees.
Suddenly Death stops his playing. In the stillness that follows is heard the sound of a cock crowing. The dead scurry back to their graves, and the weird vision fades away in the light of dawn.

Last Updated on 23rd November 2002
By Steven

And now for the Music

I like to thank Emily for the sequencing the following piece, to contact please email (HappyMusician@opendiary.com"> EMILY.

(2681)"Romance for horn ". Sequenced by Emily Gray I like to thank George Pollen for the following music, to contact George please (gpollen@polleng.freeserve.co.uk"> Click Here, or better still visit his Website here

(1497)"Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, Opus.28" a lovely piece sequenced by George Pollen

(1496)"Havanaise, Opus.83" a beauitful piece, sequenced by George Pollen

"Danse Macabre" Op. 40,(George has resequenced this on the 20/11/99) a expertly crafted sequenced piece by George Pollen(664)Large file please click here for pkunzip.exe

(665)" Organ Symphony" Well sequenced by George Pollen

My grateful thanks go to Ramon Pajares Box for these wonderful pieces, there are 14 pieces in all, which I will post over the coming weeks. Email (rpajares@rpajares.net">Ramon Pajares Box and let him know how much you like the music, or better still pay his webpage a visit.

(885)Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 1. Introduction et Marche du Lion, a wonderful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(886)Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 2. Poules et Coqs, a wonderful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(887) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 3. Hemiones (Animaux rapides) a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(888)Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 4. Tortues, a lovely sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(891) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 5. L'Elťphant - The Elephant a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(892) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 6. Kangourous - Kangaroos a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(893) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 7. Aquarium a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(894) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 8. Personnages ŗ longues oreilles - Persons with Long Ears a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(903) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 9. Le coucou au fond des bois another beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(904) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 10. Voliere a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(905) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 11. Pianistes, lovely sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(906) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 12. Fossiles a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(907) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 13. Le Cygne a beautiful sequence by Ramon Pajares Box

(908) Le Carnaval des Animaux (1886), 14. Final, this is a end to the series of wonderful sequences by Ramon Pajares Box

(39a) Fossiles Seq by ?

(13a) Short piece from The Swan (Info kindly supplied by Natalie Deshow) Seq by ?

(349)Finale to Variation on a theme by Beethoven, for two piano's (Info kindly supplied Gary K Allen).Large file please click here for pkunzip.exe Seq by ?

(311) Piano Concerto No.2, Mov No.3 (info kindly supplied by Chung-Ta Lee) Seq by ?. In zipped format click here for Pkunzip

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