Camille Saint-SaŽns


Born: Oct 9, 1835; France   Died: Dec 16, 1921; Algeria   Period: Romantic
Camille Saint-SaŽns 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 bourťe 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-SaŽns 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 Halťvy. 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 …cole 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-SaŽns 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-SaŽns developed a fondness for Faurť and his family, acting as a second father to Faurť'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-SaŽns' 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-SaŽns 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 51-58 of 58 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Saint-SaŽns: Symphony no 3 / DePreist, Royal Stockholm PO
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 555 Release Date: 10/12/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns
    Performer:  Hans Fagius
    Conductor:  James DePreist
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $21.49
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  • 52.
    Basic 100 Volume 42 - Saint-Saens, Dukas / Fox, Ormandy
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 62562 Release Date: 05/10/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns,  Paul Dukas
    Performer:  Virgil Fox
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Eduardo Mata,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 53.
    Class Brass - On The Edge
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80305 Release Date: 02/23/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Aaron Copland,  George Enescu,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Ruske,  Jeffrey Curnow,  Sam Pilafian,  Scott Hartman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Empire Brass
    CD: $17.99
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  • 54.
    Saint-saŽns: Orchestral Works
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550138 Release Date: 02/05/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns
    Performer:  Imrich Szabo
    Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bratislava CSR Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 55.
    Saint-saŽns: Symphony No 3, Etc / Ormandy, Philadelphia Orch
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 47655 Release Date: 01/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Gaby Casadesus,  E. Power Biggs
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Philippe Entremont
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Ensemble
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  • 56.
    French Opera Highlights / Paray, Detroit SO
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 432014 Release Date: 02/08/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Daniel-FranÁois Auber,  Louis Ferdinand Herold,  Ambroise Thomas,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Paray
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 57.
    The Best Of Saint-saŽns
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69112 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Nathan Milstein,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Aldo Ciccolini  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Georges PrÍtre,  Walter Susskind
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Paris Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 58.
    Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony, Danse Macabre / Barenboim, Chicago SO
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 415847 Release Date: 03/16/1987   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-SaŽns
    Performer:  Gaston Gilbert Litaize
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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