Camille Saint-Saëns
Overview
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (ʃaʁl kamij sɛ̃sɑ̃s) (9 October 183516 December 1921) was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist
Organist
An organist is a musician who plays any type of organ. An organist may play solo organ works, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers or instrumental soloists...

, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals
The Carnival of the Animals
Le carnaval des animaux is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes.-History:...

, Danse macabre
Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns)
Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based in an old French superstition...

, Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah (opera)
Samson and Delilah , Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire...

, Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Saint-Saëns)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 by Camille Saint-Saëns, was composed in 1868 and is probably Saint-Saëns' most popular piano concerto. It was dedicated to Madame A. de Villers née de Haber. At the première, the composer was the soloist and Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra...

, Cello Concerto No. 1
Cello Concerto No. 1 (Saint-Saëns)
Camille Saint-Saëns composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 in 1872, when the composer was age 37. He wrote this work for the Belgian cellist, viola de gamba player and instrument maker Auguste Tolbecque. Tolbecque was part of a distinguished family of musicians closely associated...

, Havanaise
Havanaise (Saint-Saëns)
The Havanaise in E major , Op. 83, is a composition for violin and orchestra based on the habanera rhythm, written in 1887 by Camille Saint-Saëns. It is one of the standards of the classical concertante repertoire....

, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony)
Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out...

.
Saint-Saëns was born in Paris, France on 9 October 1835. His father, a government clerk, died three months after his birth.
Encyclopedia
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (ʃaʁl kamij sɛ̃sɑ̃s) (9 October 183516 December 1921) was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist
Organist
An organist is a musician who plays any type of organ. An organist may play solo organ works, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers or instrumental soloists...

, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals
The Carnival of the Animals
Le carnaval des animaux is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes.-History:...

, Danse macabre
Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns)
Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based in an old French superstition...

, Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah (opera)
Samson and Delilah , Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire...

, Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Saint-Saëns)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 by Camille Saint-Saëns, was composed in 1868 and is probably Saint-Saëns' most popular piano concerto. It was dedicated to Madame A. de Villers née de Haber. At the première, the composer was the soloist and Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra...

, Cello Concerto No. 1
Cello Concerto No. 1 (Saint-Saëns)
Camille Saint-Saëns composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 in 1872, when the composer was age 37. He wrote this work for the Belgian cellist, viola de gamba player and instrument maker Auguste Tolbecque. Tolbecque was part of a distinguished family of musicians closely associated...

, Havanaise
Havanaise (Saint-Saëns)
The Havanaise in E major , Op. 83, is a composition for violin and orchestra based on the habanera rhythm, written in 1887 by Camille Saint-Saëns. It is one of the standards of the classical concertante repertoire....

, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony)
Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out...

.

Early years

Saint-Saëns was born in Paris, France on 9 October 1835. His father, a government clerk, died three months after his birth. He was raised by his mother, Clémence, with the assistance of her aunt, Charlotte Masson, who moved in. Masson introduced Saint-Saëns to the piano, and began giving him lessons on the instrument. At about this time, age two, Saint-Saëns was found to possess perfect pitch
Absolute pitch
Absolute pitch , widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of an external reference.-Definition:...

. His first composition, a little piece for the piano dated 22 March 1839, is now kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France
Bibliothèque nationale de France
The is the National Library of France, located in Paris. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The current president of the library is Bruno Racine.-History:...

. Saint-Saëns's precocity was not limited to music. He learned to read and write by age three, and had some mastery of Latin by the age of seven.
His first public concert appearance occurred when he was five years old, when he accompanied a Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 violin sonata
Violin sonata
A violin sonata is a musical composition for violin, which is nearly always accompanied by a piano or other keyboard instrument, or by figured bass in the Baroque period.-A:*Ella Adayevskaya**Sonata Greca for Violin or Clarinet and Piano...

. He went on to begin in-depth study of the full score of Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga on October 29, 1787...

. In 1842, Saint-Saëns began piano lessons with Camille-Marie Stamaty
Camille-Marie Stamaty
Camille-Marie Stamaty was a French pianist, piano teacher and composer predominantly of piano music and studies . Today largely forgotten, he was one of the preeminent piano teachers in 19th century Paris...

, a pupil of Friedrich Kalkbrenner
Friedrich Kalkbrenner
Friedrich Wilhelm Michael Kalkbrenner was a German pianist, composer, piano teacher and piano manufacturer who spent most of his life in England and France. Before the advent of Frédéric Chopin, Sigismond Thalberg and Franz Liszt, Kalkbrenner was by many considered to be the foremost pianist in...

, who had his students play the piano while resting their forearms on a bar situated in front of the keyboard, so that all the pianist's power came from the hands and fingers but not the arms. At ten years of age, Saint-Saëns gave his debut public recital at the Salle Pleyel
Pleyel et Cie
Pleyel et Cie is a French piano manufacturing firm founded by the composer Ignace Pleyel in 1807. In 1815, he was joined by his son, Camille, as a business partner. The firm provided pianos to Frédéric Chopin, and also ran a concert hall, the Salle Pleyel, where Chopin performed his first — and...

, with a performance of Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

's Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major
Piano Concerto No. 15 (Mozart)
The Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat Major, KV. 450 is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart composed the concerto for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater in the first quarter of...

 (K.
Köchel-Verzeichnis
The Köchel-Verzeichnis is a complete, chronological catalogue of compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart which was originally created by Ludwig von Köchel. It is abbreviated K or KV. For example, Mozart's Requiem in D minor was, according to Köchel's counting, the 626th piece Mozart composed....

 450), and various pieces by Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

, Kalkbrenner, Hummel
Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Johann Nepomuk Hummel or Jan Nepomuk Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era.- Life :...

, and Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

. As an encore, Saint-Saëns offered to play any of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas from memory
Memorization
Memorization is the process of committing something to memory. The act of memorization is often a deliberate mental process undertaken in order to store in memory for later recall items such as experiences, names, appointments, addresses, telephone numbers, lists, stories, poems, pictures, maps,...

. Word of this incredible concert spread across Europe, and as far as the United States with an article in a Boston newspaper.

He then studied composition under Fromental Halévy
Fromental Halévy
Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy, usually known as Fromental Halévy , was a French composer. He is known today largely for his opera La Juive.-Early career:...

 at the Conservatoire de Paris
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

. Saint-Saëns won many top prizes and gained a reputation that resulted in his introduction to Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, who would become one of his closest friends. At the age of sixteen, Saint-Saëns wrote his first symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

; his second, published as Symphony No. 1 in E-flat major, was performed in 1853 to the astonishment of many critics and fellow composers. Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

, who also became a good friend, famously remarked, Il sait tout, mais il manque d'inexpérience ("He knows everything, but lacks inexperience").

Middle years

For income, Saint-Saëns played the organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

 at various churches in Paris, with his first appointment being at the Saint-Merri
Saint-Merri
The Church of Saint-Merri is a small church in Paris, located on the busy street Rue Saint Martin, on the Right Bank....

 in the Beaubourg area. In 1857, he replaced Lefébure-Wely
Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely
Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely was a French organist and composer.-Short Biography:Lefébure-Wely played a major role in the development of the French symphonic organ style and was a close friend of the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, inaugurating many new Cavaillé-Coll organs.He began to...

 at the eminent position of organist at the Église de la Madeleine
Église de la Madeleine
L'église de la Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It was designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon's army...

, which he kept until 1877. His weekly improvisation
Improvisation
Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or...

s stunned the Parisian public and earned Liszt's 1866 observation that Saint-Saëns was the greatest organist in the world. He also composed a famous piece called Danse Macabre at this time.

From 1861 to 1865, Saint-Saëns held his only teaching position as professor of piano at the École Niedermeyer, where he raised eyebrows by including contemporary music—Liszt, Gounod
Charles Gounod
Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette.-Biography:...

, Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

, Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

, and Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

—along with the school's otherwise conservative curriculum of Bach and Mozart. His most successful students at the Niedermeyer were André Messager
André Messager
André Charles Prosper Messager , was a French composer, organist, pianist, conductor and administrator. His stage compositions included ballets and 30 opéra comiques and operettas, among which Véronique, had lasting success, with Les p'tites Michu and Monsieur Beaucaire also enjoying international...

 and Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers...

, who was Saint-Saëns's favourite pupil and soon his closest friend.

Saint-Saëns was a multi-faceted intellectual. From an early age, he studied geology, archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, and lepidoptery. He was an expert at mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

. Later, in addition to composing, performing, and writing musical criticism, he held discussions with Europe's finest scientists and wrote scholarly articles on acoustics
Acoustics
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics...

, occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 sciences, Roman theatre decoration, and ancient instruments. He wrote a philosophical work, Problèmes et mystères, which spoke of science and art replacing religion; Saint-Saëns's pessimistic
Pessimism
Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus , is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?"...

 and atheistic
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

 ideas foreshadowed Existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

. Other literary achievements included Rimes familières, a volume of poetry, and La crampe des écrivains, a successful farcical
Farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

 play. He was also a member of the Astronomical Society of France; he gave lectures on mirage
Mirage
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to English via the French mirage, from the Latin mirare, meaning "to look at, to wonder at"...

s, had a telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

 made to his own specifications, and even planned concerts to correspond to astronomical events such as solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

s.

In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, despite being over in barely six months, left an indelible mark on the composer. He was relieved from fighting duty as one of the favourites of a relative of emperor Napoleon III, but fled nonetheless to London for several months when the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

 broke out in the besieged Paris of winter 1871, his fame and societal status posing a threat to his survival. In the same year, he co-founded with Romain Bussine
Romain Bussine
Romain Bussine was a French poet, baritone, and voice teacher who lived during the 19th century.In 1871, together with Camille Saint-Saëns and Henri Duparc, he founded the Société Nationale de Musique as a forum for promoting contemporary French chamber and orchestral music...

 the Société Nationale de Musique
Société Nationale de Musique
The Société Nationale de Musique was founded on February 25, 1871 to promote French music and to allow young composers to present their music in public...

 in order to promote a new and specifically French music. After the fall of the Paris Commune, the Society premiered works by members such as Fauré, César Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

, Édouard Lalo
Édouard Lalo
Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo was a French composer.-Biography:Lalo was born in Lille , in northernmost France. He attended that city's music conservatory in his youth. Then, beginning at age 16, Lalo studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Berlioz's old enemy François Antoine Habeneck...

, and Saint-Saëns himself, who served as the society's co-president. In this way, Saint-Saëns became a powerful figure in shaping the future of French music.

In 1875, nearing forty, Saint-Saëns married Marie Laure Emile Truffot, who was just 19. They had two sons, both of whom died in 1878, within six weeks of each other, one from an illness, the other upon falling out of a fourth-story window. For the latter death Saint-Saëns blamed his wife, and when they went on vacation together in 1881 he simply disappeared one day. A separation order was enacted, but they never divorced.

From 1877 to 1889, he lived at 14, rue Monsieur-le-Prince
Rue Monsieur-le-Prince
Rue Monsieur-le-Prince is a street of Paris, located in the 6th arrondissement.-See also:* Hôtel de Condé, formerly in the area, the Paris residence and estate of the princes of Condé from 1612 to 1770* Maison d'Auguste Comte, a museum located at #10...

, and the apartment house is marked by a plaque.Photo of the plaque

Later years

In 1886 Saint-Saëns debuted two of his most renowned compositions: The Carnival of the Animals
The Carnival of the Animals
Le carnaval des animaux is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes.-History:...

and Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out...

, dedicated to Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, who died that year. That same year, however, Vincent d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy was a French composer and teacher.-Life:Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d'Indy was born in Paris into an aristocratic family of royalist and Catholic persuasion. He had piano lessons from an early age from his paternal grandmother, who passed him on to Antoine François Marmontel and...

 and his allies had Saint-Saëns removed from the Société Nationale de Musique. Two years later, Saint-Saëns's mother died, driving the mourning composer away from France to the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 under the alias "Sannois". Over the next several years he travelled around the world, visiting exotic locations in Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Saint-Saëns chronicled his travels in many popular books using his nom de plume, Sannois.

In 1908, he had the distinction of being the first celebrated composer to write a musical score to a motion picture, The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
The Assassination of the Duke of Guise is a French historical film directed by Charles Le Bargy and André Calmettes, adapted by Henri Lavedan, and featuring actors of the Comédie Française and prominent set designers...

(L'assassinat du duc de Guise), directed by Charles Le Bargy and André Calmettes, adapted by Henri Lavedan, featuring actors of the Comédie Française. It was 18 minutes long, a considerable run time for the day.

In 1915, Saint-Saëns traveled to San Francisco and guest conducted the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, one of two world's fairs celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

.

Saint-Saëns continued to write on musical, scientific and historical topics, travelling frequently before spending his last years in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

, Algeria. In recognition of his accomplishments, the government of France awarded him the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

. A street in Paris and in Marseilles is named in his honor.

Saint-Saëns died of pneumonia on 16 December 1921 at the Hôtel de l'Oasis in Algiers. His body was repatriated to Paris, honoured by state funeral at La Madeleine
Église de la Madeleine
L'église de la Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It was designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon's army...

, and interred at Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

Relationships with other composers

Saint-Saëns was either friend or enemy to some of Europe's most distinguished musicians. He stayed close to Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 and maintained a fast friendship with his pupil Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers...

, who replaced him as organist and choirmaster when he retired. Additionally, he was a teacher and friend to Isidor Philipp
Isidor Philipp
Isidor Philipp was a French pianist, composer, and distinguished pedagogue of Hungarian descent. He was born in Budapest and died in Paris.-Biography:...

, who headed the piano department at the Paris Conservatory for several decades and was a composer and editor of the music of many composers. But despite his strong advocacy of French music, Saint-Saëns openly despised many of his fellow-composers in France such as Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

 and d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy was a French composer and teacher.-Life:Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d'Indy was born in Paris into an aristocratic family of royalist and Catholic persuasion. He had piano lessons from an early age from his paternal grandmother, who passed him on to Antoine François Marmontel and...

, and while he praises the musical genius of Jules Massenet
Jules Massenet
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer best known for his operas. His compositions were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the greatest melodists of his era. Soon after his death, Massenet's style went out of fashion, and many of his operas...

 in his 1919 book Musical Memories, he also states pointedly in the same chapter that he had no use for Massenet personally. Saint-Saëns also hated the music of Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

; he is reported to have told Pierre Lalo, music critic, and son of composer Édouard Lalo
Édouard Lalo
Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo was a French composer.-Biography:Lalo was born in Lille , in northernmost France. He attended that city's music conservatory in his youth. Then, beginning at age 16, Lalo studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Berlioz's old enemy François Antoine Habeneck...

, "I have stayed in Paris to speak ill of Pelléas et Mélisande
Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's Symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande...

." The personal animosity was mutual; Debussy quipped: "I have a horror of sentimentality, and I cannot forget that its name is Saint-Saëns." On other occasions, however, Debussy acknowledged an admiration for Saint-Saëns's musical talents.

Saint-Saëns had been an early champion of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's music in France, teaching his pieces during his tenure at the École Niedermeyer and premiering the March from Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (opera)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

. He had stunned even Wagner himself when he sight-read
Sight reading
Sight-reading is the reading and performing of a piece of written music, specifically when the performer has not seen it before. Sight-singing is often used to describe a singer who is sight-reading.-Sight-reading:...

 the entire orchestral scores of Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

, Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...

, and Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

, prompting Hans von Bülow
Hans von Bülow
Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow was a German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer of the Romantic era. He was one of the most famous conductors of the 19th century, and his activity was critical for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, including Richard...

 to refer to him as "the greatest musical mind" of the era. However, despite admitting appreciation for the power of Wagner's work, Saint-Saëns defiantly stated that he was not an aficionado. In 1886, Saint-Saëns was punished for some particularly harsh and anti-German comments on the Paris production of Lohengrin by losing engagements and receiving negative reviews throughout Germany. Later, after World War I, Saint-Saëns angered both French and Germans with his inflammatory articles entitled Germanophilie, which ruthlessly attacked Wagner.

Saint-Saëns edited Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François...

's Pièces de clavecin, and published them in 1895 through Durand in Paris (re-printed by Dover in 1993).

According to an unconfirmed anecdote, Saint-Saëns stormed out of the première of Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

's Le sacre du printemps
The Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring, original French title Le sacre du printemps , is a ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich...

 (The Rite of Spring)
on 29 May 1913, allegedly infuriated over what he considered the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars.

Reputation

Saint-Saëns began his musical career as a musical pioneer, introducing to France the symphonic poem
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

 and championing the radical works of Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 and Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 at a time when Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 and Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 were the norms. By the dawn of the 20th century, Saint-Saëns was an ultra-conservative, fighting the influence of Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

 and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 while defending the reputations of Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

 and Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

. This is hardly surprising—Saint-Saëns's career began while Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

 and Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 were in their prime, and ended at the commencement of the Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 Age; but his image endured for years after his death.

As a composer, Saint-Saëns was often criticized for his refusal to embrace romanticism and at the same time, rather paradoxically, for his adherence to the conventions of 19th-century musical language. He is remembered chiefly for works such as The Carnival of the Animals
The Carnival of the Animals
Le carnaval des animaux is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes.-History:...

, which was not published in full until after his death – reportedly because Saint-Saëns feared it would affect his reputation as a serious composer; the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso (Saint-Saëns)
The Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor , Op. 28, is a composition for violin and orchestra written in 1863 by Camille Saint-Saëns for the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate...

for violin and orchestra, the operas Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah (opera)
Samson and Delilah , Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire...

and Henry VIII
Henry VIII (opera)
Henry VIII is an opera in four acts by Camille Saint-Saëns, from a libretto by Léonce Détroyat and Armand Silvestre, based on El cisma en Inglaterra by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.-Composition history:...

(of which only the first is frequently performed today), the Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out...

; the second, fourth and fifth piano concertos; the third violin concerto; the first cello concerto; and the first violin sonata.

Style


Saint-Saëns' concertos and many of his chamber music works are both technically difficult and transparent, requiring the skills of a virtuoso. The later chamber music pieces, such as the second violin sonata, the second cello sonata, and the second piano trio, are less accessible to a listener than earlier pieces in the same form. They were composed and performed when Saint-Saëns was already slipping out of popularity and, as a result, they are little known. They show a willingness to experiment with more progressive musical language and to abandon lyricism and charm for more profound expression.

The piano music, while not as deep or as challenging as that of some of his contemporaries, occupies the stylistic ground between Liszt and Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

. At times brilliant, transparent and idiomatic, the music for two pianos includes the Variations on a Theme by Beethoven, the Scherzo, a palindromic piece that uses a blend of modern tonalities and conventional gestures, and the Caprice arabe, a rhythmically inventive fantasy that pays homage to the music of northern Africa. Although Saint-Saëns was considered old-fashioned in later life, he explored many new forms and reinvigorated some older ones. His compositional approach was inspired by French classicism, which makes him an important forerunner of the neoclassicism of Ravel and others.

In performance, Saint-Saëns is said to have been "unequalled on the organ", and rivaled by only a few on the piano. However, Saint-Saëns's concert style was restrained, subtle, and cool; he sat unmoving at the piano. His playing was marked by extraordinarily even scales and passagework, great speed, and aristocratic refinement. The recordings he left at the end of his life give glimpses of these traits. He was often charged with being unemotional and business-like, less memorable than other more charismatic performers. He was probably the first pianist to publicly perform a cycle of all the Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 piano concertos. In some cases these influenced his own piano concertos; for example, the first movement of his 4th Piano Concerto in C minor
Piano Concerto No. 4 (Saint-Saëns)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor , Op. 44 by Camille Saint-Saëns, is the composer's most structurally innovative piano concerto. It follows the typical concerto format of three movements, but the central Andante section is usually attached seamlessly to the preceding Allegro moderato. In fact, the...

 strongly resembles the last movement of Mozart's 24th Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 24 (Mozart)
The Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart composed the concerto in the winter of 1785–1786 and completed the work on 24 March 1786...

, which is in the same key. In turn, his own concertos appear to have influenced those of Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music...

 and other later Romantic composers. Throughout his life, Saint-Saëns continued to play with the technique taught to him by Stamaty, using the strength of the hand rather than the arm. Claudio Arrau
Claudio Arrau
Claudio Arrau León was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning from the baroque to 20th-century composers, especially Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Debussy...

 never forgot the ease with which Saint-Saëns played (he cites Chopin's fourth scherzo as an example).

Musical works

Saint-Saëns's early start and his long life provided him with time to write hundreds of compositions; during his career, he wrote many dramatic works, including four symphonic poem
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

s, and thirteen operas, of which Samson et Dalila
Samson and Delilah (opera)
Samson and Delilah , Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire...

and the symphonic poem Danse macabre
Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns)
Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based in an old French superstition...

are among his most famous. In all, he composed over 300 works and was the first major composer to write music specifically for the cinema, for Henri Lavedan
Henri Lavedan
Henri Léon Emile Lavedan , French dramatist and man of letters, was born at Orléans, the son of Hubert Léon Lavedan, a well-known Catholic and liberal journalist....

's film The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
The Assassination of the Duke of Guise is a French historical film directed by Charles Le Bargy and André Calmettes, adapted by Henri Lavedan, and featuring actors of the Comédie Française and prominent set designers...

(Op. 128, 1908).
Saint-Saëns wrote five symphonies, although only three of these are numbered. He withdrew the first, written for a Mozartian-scale orchestra, and the third, a competition piece. His symphonies are a significant contribution to the genre during a period when the French symphonic tradition was otherwise in decline. Saint-Saëns also contributed voluminously to the French concertante literature; he wrote five piano concertos, three violin concertos, two cello concertos, and about twenty smaller concertante works for soloist and orchestra, including a colorfully orchestrated piano fantasy, Africa; the Havanaise and the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra; and the Morceau de concert for harp and orchestra. Of the concertos, the Second Piano concerto
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Saint-Saëns)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 by Camille Saint-Saëns, was composed in 1868 and is probably Saint-Saëns' most popular piano concerto. It was dedicated to Madame A. de Villers née de Haber. At the première, the composer was the soloist and Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra...

 is one of the most popular of virtuoso piano concertos, and the Third Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61, by Camille Saint-Saëns is a piece for violin and orchestra written in 1880. Saint-Saëns dedicated the concerto to fellow composer-virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, who played the solo part at the premiere...

 and First Cello Concerto
Cello Concerto No. 1 (Saint-Saëns)
Camille Saint-Saëns composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 in 1872, when the composer was age 37. He wrote this work for the Belgian cellist, viola de gamba player and instrument maker Auguste Tolbecque. Tolbecque was part of a distinguished family of musicians closely associated...

 also remain popular.

In 1886, he wrote his final symphony, the Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out...

, avec orgue (with organ), one of his best-known works. The motif of the third became the inspiration for the 1978 song If I Had Words
If I Had Words
"If I Had Words" was a 1977 UK hit song performed by Scott Fitzgerald as a duet with Yvonne Keeley. It reached number 3 in the UK charts and number 24 in the Australian charts in 1978. It sold more than one million copies...

 by Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald (singer)
Scott Fitzgerald is a Scottish singer, who had his biggest success in the 1970s and later represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.-Career:...

 and Yvonne Keeley. Aided by the monumental symphonic organs built in France by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll was a French organ builder. He is considered by many to be the greatest organ builder of the 19th century because he combined both science and art to make his instruments...

, at that time the world's foremost organ builder, this work demonstrates the spirit of "gigantism" and the confidence of France in the Belle Époque
Belle Époque
The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, it was a period characterised by optimism and new technological and medical...

at the end of the 19th century, a period that produced the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

, the Universal Exposition at Paris
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...

. The confident Maestoso fourth movement perhaps reflects the confidence of Europe in its technology, its science, its "age of reason". He was frequently named as "the most German of all the French composers", perhaps due to his use of counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

.

Also in 1886, Saint-Saëns completed The Carnival of the Animals
The Carnival of the Animals
Le carnaval des animaux is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes.-History:...

, which was first performed privately on 9 March. In contrast with the work's later popularity, Saint-Saëns forbade complete performances of it shortly after its première, allowing only one movement, Le cygne (The Swan) for cello and two pianos, to be published in his lifetime. Carnival was written as a musical jest, and Saint-Saëns believed it would damage his reputation as a serious composer. In fact, since its posthumous publication, this work's imagination and musical brilliance have impressed listeners and critics. In 1950, poet Ogden Nash
Ogden Nash
Frederic Ogden Nash was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, the New York Times said his "droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country's best-known producer of humorous poetry".-Early life:Nash was born in Rye, New York...

 wrote verses to introduce the various movements and these have sometimes been used in concerts and recordings of the music.

Saint-Saëns also wrote six preludes
Prelude (music)
A prelude is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. The prelude can be thought of as a preface. It may stand on its own or introduce another work...

 and fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

s for organ, three in Op. 99 and three in Op. 109, of which Op. 99, no. 3 in E flat major is most often performed.

The opera Hélène was composed by Saint-Saëns for the great Australian soprano, Dame
Dame (title)
The title of Dame is the female equivalent of the honour of knighthood in the British honours system . It is also the equivalent form address to 'Sir' for a knight...

 Nellie Melba
Nellie Melba
Dame Nellie Melba GBE , born Helen "Nellie" Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian Era and the early 20th century...

, in 1904. Unstaged after its premiere in Monaco, it was performed in the soprano's home city (Melbourne) during January 2008.

One of Saint-Saëns's symphonic poems, Le rouet d'Omphale, Op. 31, became famous to a new generation of listeners beginning in 1937 through its use of the ominous middle section of it as the theme to the long-running radio program, The Shadow
The Shadow
The Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in pulp magazines, then on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of the title character, a crime-fighting vigilante in the pulps, which carried over to the airwaves as a "wealthy, young man about town"...

.

Controversies

Saint-Saëns was thought to have ethnically Jewish traits, especially in his youth. For this reason, some contemporaries and historians believed he was of Jewish descent. He said that a person called "Saint-Saëns" could not possibly be a Jew, but his close friend Leopold Godowsky
Leopold Godowsky
Leopold Godowsky was a famed Polish American pianist, composer, and teacher. One of the most highly regarded performers of his time, he became known for his theories concerning the application of relaxed weight and economy of motion in piano playing, principles later propagated by Godowsky's...

 said he had taken his mother's (instead of his father's) name. (The name Saëns is derived from the Latin Sidonius; a monastery near Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

, founded by a seventh-century monk of that name
Sidonius of Saint-Saëns
Sidonius was an Irish-born French monk and saint. He was the spiritual teacher of Leutfridus.Sidonus was born sometime in the seventh century, and was a monk at the abbey in Jumieges in 664; he then spent several years travelling between monasteries. For ten years he served in Rome as a companion...

, was afterwards known as Saint-Saëns.) Adolphe Boschot said that Saint-Saëns could not be of Jewish origin because his uncle was a priest, and Jacques Hanschin also tried to disprove such an origin. W. L. Hubbard simply lists Saint-Saëns as being of Jewish descent.

He was also rumoured to be homosexual.

Media

Further reading

  • Michael Stegemann: Camille Saint-Saëns and the French Solo Concerto from 1850 to 1920. Portland OR: Amadeus Press, 1991. ISBN 0-931340-35-7

External links

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