Saint-Saens, Camille (1835 - 1921)
MAGATAGAN, MICHAEL (1960 - )
|Added by magataganm, 07 May 2012
Camille Saint-Saens was born in Paris and brought up by his mother. He began music lessons early and by the age of three had already composed his first piano piece. From the age of seven he took composition lessons and soon gained a reputation in Paris as a child prodigy. In 1846, aged 11, he gave a recital of Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos; for an encore he offered to play any one of the Beethoven piano sonatas from memory.
He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1848 and over the next five years his dazzling gifts won both the friendship and patronage of composers such as Rossini, Gounod, Liszt, and Berlioz. His mentors feared only that his chameleon-like ability to absorb information and musical styles, while in one sense an advantage, might inhibit originality of expression in his own compositions.
The 1860s were probably the most contented and stable years of Saint-Saens's life. During this time he quickly acquired a formidable reputation as a composer and a virtuoso pianist. Saint-Saens spent his final years travelling in Europe and the United States. On his death in 1921 he left a body of music that revealed a passion for order, clarity, and precision, as well as an always attractive - and very French - melodic charm.
Saint-Saëns knew how to write perfectly for harp and wrote the solo Fantasy, Opus 95 as well as a concert piece for harp and orchestra (Opus 154). The Fantasie is full of harp harmonics and has a lovely harp cadenza.