Camille Saint-Saëns

Biography

Born: Oct 9, 1835; France   Died: Dec 16, 1921; Algeria   Period: Romantic
Camille Saint-Saëns was something of an anomaly among French composers of the nineteenth century in that he wrote in virtually all genres, including opera, symphonies, concertos, songs, sacred and secular choral music, solo piano, and chamber music. He was generally not a pioneer, though he did help to revive some earlier and largely forgotten dance forms, like the bourée and gavotte. He was a conservative who wrote many popular scores scattered Read more throughout the various genres: the Piano Concerto No. 2, Symphony No. 3 ("Organ"), the symphonic poem Danse macabre, the opera Samson et Dalila, and probably his most widely performed work, The Carnival of The Animals. While he remained a composer closely tied to tradition and traditional forms in his later years, he did develop a more arid style, less colorful and, in the end, less appealing. He was also a poet and playwright of some distinction.
Saint-Saëns was born in Paris on October 9, 1835. He was one of the most precocious musicians ever, beginning piano lessons with his aunt at two-and-a-half and composing his first work at three. At age seven he studied composition with Pierre Maledin. When he was ten, he gave a concert that included Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto, Mozart's B flat Concerto, K. 460, along with works by Bach, Handel, and Hummel. In his academic studies, he displayed the same genius, learning languages and advanced mathematics with ease and celerity. He would also develop keen, lifelong interests in geology and astronomy.
In 1848, he entered the Paris Conservatory and studied organ and composition, the latter with Halévy. By his early twenties, following the composition of two symphonies, he had won the admiration and support of Berlioz, Liszt, Gounod, Rossini, and other notable figures. From 1853 to 1876, he held church organist posts; he also taught at the École Niedermeyer (1861-1865). He composed much throughout his early years, turning out the 1853 Symphony in F ("Urbs Roma"), a Mass (1855) and several concertos, including the popular second, for piano (1868).
In 1875, Saint-Saëns married the 19-year-old Marie Truffot, bringing on perhaps the saddest chapter in his life. The union produced two children who died within six weeks of each other, one from a four-story fall. The marriage ended in 1881. Oddly, this dark period in his life produced some of his most popular works, including Danse macabre (1875) and Samson et Dalila (1878). After the tragic events of his marriage, Saint-Saëns developed a fondness for Fauré and his family, acting as a second father to Fauré's children.
But he also remained very close to his mother, who had opposed his marriage. When she died in 1888, the composer fell into a deep depression, even contemplating suicide for a time. He did much travel in the years that followed and developed an interest in Algeria and Egypt, which eventually inspired him to write Africa (1891) and his Piano Concerto No. 5, the "Egyptian". He also turned out works unrelated to exotic places, such as his popular and most enduring serious composition, the Symphony No. 3.
Curiously, after 1890, Saint-Saëns' music was regarded with some condescension in his homeland, while in England and the United States he was hailed as France's greatest living composer well into the twentieth century. Saint-Saëns experienced an especially triumphant concert tour when he visited the U.S. in 1915. In the last two decades of his life, he remained attached to his dogs and was largely a loner. He died in Algeria on December 16, 1921. Read less

Work: Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Bacchanale

Browse 1-25 of 41 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    From Praxedis with Love / Duo Praxedis
    Label: Paladino Music   Catalog: 80 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Otto Nicolai,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Eilenberg  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Praxedis
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  • 2.
    Decca Sound – Dutoit: The Montreal Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002449102 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ernest Chausson,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Timothy Hutchins,  Beverly Hoch,  Stanford Olsen  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
    CD: $117.99
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  • 3.
    Sinful Women
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4181 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Igor Stravinsky,  Luigi Cherubini  ... 
    Performer:  Dagmar Peckova [Mezzo Soprano Vocal],  Ivana [Soprano Vocal] Veberova,  Peter Mikulas
    Conductor:  Aleksandar Markovic
    CD: $19.99
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  • 4.
    Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition Vol 2
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001831802 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Anton Webern,  Alban Berg,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Pilarczyk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Mihaly Székely,  Olga Szönyi  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Rafael Kubelik,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Frederick Fennell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Hungarica  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 5.
    Discoveries / Gustavo Dudamel
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001709702 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Anton Bruckner,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 6.
    Discoveries / Gustavo Dudamel [CD + DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001725300 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Anton Bruckner,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 7.
    Neeme Jarvi Conducts Saint-Saens / Jarvi, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5104 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Fete a la Francaise / Dutoit, Montreal
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421527 Release Date: 10/17/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dukas,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Ambroise Thomas,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    New Year's Eve Concert 2010  / Garanca, Dudamel, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001529409 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Georges Bizet,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Elina Garanca
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 10.
    Saint-Saens: Samson et Dalila Highlights / Carreras, Baltsa, Davis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438504 Release Date: 08/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Simon Estes,  Robert Swensen,  Jonathan [Baritone Vocal] Summers  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 11.
    Exotic Dances From The Opera / Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 712 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Richard Strauss,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Eiji Oue
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala (1983)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001326309 Release Date: 09/15/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Renato Bruson,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 13.
    Classical Prep School - Essential Music
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80749 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Richard Wagner,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  John O'Conor,  James Van Demark,  Rudolf Serkin,  Michael Chertock  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Bishop,  Yoel Levi,  Erich Kunzel,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Cincinnati Pops,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 14.
    Bernstein Favorites - Opera For Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 46714 Release Date: 07/02/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Alexander Borodin,  Georges Bizet,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 15.
    1001 Nights - Breezes From The Orient / Schneidt, Guida, Ottenthal
    Label: Phoenix Edition   Catalog: 420 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ernest Reyer,  Karol Szymanowski,  Peter Cornelius,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Gertrud von Ottenthal,  Bruno Lazzaretti,  Roberto Servile,  Georg Donderer  ... 
    Conductor:  Guido Maria Guida,  Hanns-Martin Schneidt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin St. Hedwigs Cathedral Chorus
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  • 16.
    The Fantastic Philadelphians - A Dazzling Dance Spectacular / Ormandy
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 38128 Release Date: 04/16/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38038 Release Date: 01/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
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  • 18.
    The Royal Edition - Ballet Music / Bernstein
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47600 Release Date: 02/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Borodin,  Charles Gounod,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 19.
    Label: United States Navy Band   Catalog: ALT70112 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Paul Dukas,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Conductor:  Ralph M. Gambone
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    Portraits In Sound / Leinsdorf, Concert Arts Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65205 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Paul Dukas,  Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Carmen Dragon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra,  Capitol Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    Saint-saëns: Symphony No 3, Etc / Mansurov, Et Al
    Label: Vista Vera   Catalog: 96009 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Rubin Abdullin,  Jusefina Sokolskaya,  Vadim Shashkin
    Conductor:  Fuat Mansurov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tartarstan State Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $23.98
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  • 22.
    Leonard Slatkin Conducts Concert Classics
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 5959 Release Date: 06/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 23.
    Tex Sax Next Generation / University Of Texas Saxophone Ensemble
    Label: Mark Masters   Catalog: 7119 Release Date: 01/01/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Matitia,  Percy Aldridge Grainger,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Conductor:  Harvey Pittel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  University Of Texas Saxophone Ensemble
    CD: $11.99
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  • 24.
    The Only Opera Album You Will Ever Need
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 51677 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Georges Bizet,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 25.
    Danzas Y Ballets - A Través De Los Tiempos
    Label: Yoyo   Catalog: 59401 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Charles Gounod,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Festival Orchestra
    On sale! $38.98
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