Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns

*9 X 1835 Paryż, †16 XII 1921 Algier

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 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, Georg 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 Fauré and Ravel.


 

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