Once described as the French Mendelssohn, Saint-SaŽns was a talented and precocious child, with interests by no means confined to music. He made an early impression as a pianist. Following established French tradition, he was for nearly twenty years organist at the
Madeleine in Paris and taught at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he befriended his pupil Gabriel Faurť. Prolific and versatile as a composer, by the time of his death in 1921 his popularity in France had diminished very considerably, as fashions in music changed.
The best known of the thirteen operas completed by Saint-SaŽns is Samson et Dalila, a romantic treatment of the biblical story.
Vocal and Choral Music
Saint-SaŽns wrote a number of sacred and secular Choral music and made a considerable contribution to the body of French solo song.
The third of the three numbered symphonies of Saint-SaŽns, the so-called Organ Symphony, so named from the use of the instrument in the work, is the best known. Other popular Orchestral music include Le Rouet d'Omphale (Omphale's Wheel) and Danse macabre.
Saint-SaŽns was equally prolific in his provision of chamber music, with a series of duo sonatas, including two violin sonatas, two cello sonatas and a variety of other pieces. His Carnival of the Animals, often heard in more expanded form, was in origin a private joke for the
enjoyment of the composer's friends.
Biography selected from Naxos, the World's Leading Classical Music Label.
©HNH International Ltd. 2000. In Kunst der Fuge / On Classical by permission. All rights reserved.