Saint-Saëns: child prodigy and cosmopolitan

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns, 1835-1921

100 years ago, on 16 December 1921, the French composer Chales-Camille Saint-Saens died in Algiers. At the time, he was considered a child prodigy, having written his first composition for piano at the age of four and causing a sensation at five by playing a Beethoven sonata. Today, Saint-Saens is considered one of the greatest French musicians of the 19th century, alongside the completely different Berlioz. Translated with (free version)

The composer was born in Paris on 9 October 1835. His mother was a watercolour painter, his father a poet, chansonier and dramatist. But just three months after Camille’s birth, his father died of consumption. He received his musical training on the piano and organ, and his patrons and teachers were numerous. At the age of six, he began studying Latin, Greek and mathematics alongside music.

As a child prodigy, he carried music within himself, identified with it and used it like a mother tongue. Partially self-taught, of intellectual independence and an incessant thirst for knowledge, he possessed a comprehensive knowledge of the music of all countries and all times. Whenever he ventured to write new material, he visited the countries the libretto was about. Thus he travelled to almost all the countries of Europe and North Africa, and at the turn of the century ships carried him to South and North America.

Appreciated by artists, understood by the public, acclaimed by the masses, showered with praise abroad, bestowed with public honours, Saint-Saens was at the peak of his life when, decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, he died in Algiers on 16 December 1921.

Works for Symphonic Wind Orchestra

Works for chamber, string and symphony orchestra

Works for ensembles

Works for soloists, pedagogical works

Works for Choir

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