Tag Archives: Carnival of the Animals

Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre (National Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor:Leopold Stokowski): great compositions/performances


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Make Music Part of Your Life Series: Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre



Danse Macabre (first performed in 1875) is the name of opus 40 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

The composition is based upon a poem by Henri Cazalis, on an old French superstition: Zig, zig, zig, Death in a cadence, Striking with his heel a tomb, Death at midnight plays a dance-tune, Zig, zig, zig, on his violin. The winter wind blows and the night is dark; Moans are heard in the linden trees. Through the gloom, white skeletons pass, Running and leaping in their shrouds. Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking, The bones of the dancers are heard to crack— But hist! of a sudden they quit the round, They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

According to the ancient superstition, “Death” appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death has the power to call forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle (represented by a solo violin with its E-string tuned to an E-flat in an example of scordatura tuning). His skeletons dance for him until the first break of dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.

The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times to signify the clock striking midnight, accompanied by soft chords from the string section. This then leads to the eerie E flat and A chords (also known as a tritone or the “Devil’s chord“) played by a solo violin, representing death on his fiddle. After which the main theme is heard on a solo flute and is followed by a descending scale on the solo violin. The rest of the orchestra, particularly the lower instruments of the string section, then joins in on the descending scale. The main theme and the scale is then heard throughout the various sections of the orchestra until it breaks to the solo violin and the harp playing the scale. The piece becomes more energetic and climaxes at this point; the full orchestra playing with strong dynamics.Towards the end of the piece, there is another violin solo, now modulating, which is then joined by the rest of the orchestra. The final section, a pianissimo, represents the dawn breaking and the skeletons returning to their graves.

The piece makes particular use of the xylophone in a particular theme to imitate the sounds of rattling bones. Saint-Saëns uses a similar motif in the Fossils part of his Carnival of the Animals.
[from Wikipedia]

Artwork:Remedios Varo,”Les Feuilles Mortes”.
Played by:National Philharmonic Orchestra,
conductor:Leopold Stokowski.

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Great Compostions/Performances: Rhapsodie D’Auvergne for Piano and Orchestra By Saint-Saens


Rhapsodie D’Auvergne for Piano and Orchestra By Saint-Saens

(2008 Annual Concert at Glenn Gould Studio Toronto Soloist:Emily Pei’En Fan Conductor: Tony Fan with Chinese Artists Society of Toronto Youth Orchestra)

Saint-Saens: Later years

In 1886 Saint-Saëns debuted two of his most renowned compositions: The Carnival of the Animals andSymphony No. 3, dedicated to Franz Liszt, who died that year. That same year, however, Vincent d’Indyand 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 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 (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, California 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.

Saint-Saëns continued to write on musical, scientific and historical topics, travelling frequently before spending his last years in AlgiersAlgeria. In recognition of his accomplishments, the government of France awarded him the Légion d’honneur.

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, 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 and maintained a fast friendship with his pupil Gabriel Fauré, who replaced him as organist and choirmaster when he retired. Additionally, he was a teacher and friend to Isidor Philipp, 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 Franckd’Indy, and Massenet. Saint-Saëns also hated the music of Claude Debussy; he is reported to have told Pierre Lalo, music critic, and son of composer Édouard Lalo, “I have stayed in Paris to speak ill of 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‘s music in France, teaching his pieces during his tenure at the École Niedermeyer and premiering the March from Tannhäuser. He had stunned even Wagner himself when he sight-read the entire orchestral scores of LohengrinTristan und Isolde, andSiegfried, prompting Hans von Bülow 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.[2]

Saint-Saëns edited Jean-Philippe Rameau‘s Pièces de clavecin, and published them in 1895 through Durand in Paris (re-printed by Dover in 1993).

On 29 May 1913, Saint-Saëns stormed out of the première of Igor Stravinsky‘s Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), allegedly infuriated over what he considered the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet’s opening bars.

 

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Fantastic Composer/Compositions: Saint-Saens Clarinet Sonata op. 167 in E flat major



Clarinet: Richard Hosford 
Piano: Jan Brown
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

 

“Saint-Saens” redirects here. For the commune in Haute-Normandie, see Saint-Saëns, Seine-Maritime.

Camille Saint-Saëns

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns 

(French pronunciation: ​[ʃaʁl kamij sɛ̃sɑ̃s];9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French composerorganistconductor, and pianist of the Romantic era. He is known especially for The Carnival of the AnimalsDanse macabreSamson and Delilah (Opera), Piano Concerto No. 2Cello Concerto No. 1HavanaiseIntroduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).
Saint-Saëns was born in ParisFrance, 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. His first composition, a little piece for the piano dated 22 March 1839, is now kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Saint-Saëns’s precocity was not limited to music. He learned to read and write by the age of three, and had some mastery of Latin by the age of seven.

 

Fabulous Composers and compositions: Camille Saint-Saëns – Carnaval des Animaux



Prague Symphony Orchestra – Martin Turnovsky, Pavel Stepan & Ilja Hurnik – piano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Carnival of the Animals (Le carnaval des animaux) is a humorous musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Written for private performance by an ad hoc ensemble of two pianos and other instruments, the work lasts around 25 minutes.

Contents

 

Camille Saint-Saens ~ Carnival of the Animals



Performed by: Pianos: Neil and Nancy O’Doan Orchestra: Seattle Youth Symphony, conducted by Vilem Sokol.