Camille Saint-Saëns

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Saint-Saëns, Camille

 

(Charles Camille Saint-Saëns). Born Oct. 9, 1835, in Paris; died Dec. 16, 1921, in Algiers; buried in Paris. French composer, pianist, conductor, music critic, and public figure. Member of the Institut de France (1881); recipient of an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University (1893); honorary member of the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Musical Society (1909).

In 1848, Saint-Saëns entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with F. Benoist (organ) and F. Halévy (composition). He served as an organist in the cathedrals of Paris (1853–77) and taught piano at the Ecole Niedermeyer (1861–65), where G. Fauré and A. Messager were among his pupils. Saint-Saëns was among the organizers of the Société Nationale de Musique (1871). He gave concerts in many countries, including Russia (1875, 1887), performing as a pianist and conductor and presenting primarily his own works.

Saint-Saëns wrote many works in diverse genres. His most brilliant compositions were instrumental works, especially symphonies and virtuoso concerti. A bright lyricism and noble ardor prevail in his compositions, the most outstanding of which include the opera Samson et Dalila (1877, Weimar); the Symphony No. 3 (with organ, 1886); the symphonic poem Danse macabre (1874); the Concerto No. 3 for Violin (1880) and the Introduction et rondo capriccioso (1863) for violin and orchestra; the second, fourth, and fifth piano concerti (1868, 1875, and 1896); the Concerto No. 2 for Cello (1902); and the orchestral fantasy The Carnival of the Animals (1886). Saint-Saëns wrote many books on music, the most important of which are Harmony and Melody (1885) and Portraits and Reminiscences (1899). He edited various music publications, including the complete works of J.-P. Rameau and several operas by C. W. Gluck.

REFERENCES

Rolland, R. “K. Sen-Sans.” In his book Muzykanty nashikh dnei, Sobr. soch., vol. 16. Leningrad, 1935.
Kremlev, Iu. K. Sen-Sans. Moscow, 1970.
Harding, J. Saint-Saëns and His Circle. London[1965].