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Saint-Saëns, Charles Camille

Saint-Saëns, Charles Camille shärl kämē´yə´ săN-säNs [key], 1835–1921, French composer. A child prodigy, he made his debut as a pianist at 10 and entered the Paris Conservatory in 1848. He was a prolific composer, writing in almost every form, and he was organist at the Madeleine for 20 years. Saint-Saëns is best known for his biblical opera, Samson et Dalila (1877) other works include the Third Symphony (1886), with organ and piano the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (1863), for violin and orchestra the piano concertos in G minor (1868) and C minor (1875) and symphonic poems, notably Le Rouet d'Omphale (1872) and Danse macabre (1874). His works are marked by unfailing craftsmanship and brilliant orchestration, but they frequently lack imaginative force. He was a champion of instrumental music in France when it was extremely low in popular esteem. In his later years, Saint-Saëns became highly conservative, strenuously opposing modern music.

See his Musical Memories (tr. 1919) biographies by A. Hervey (1921, repr. 1970) and W. Lyle (1923, repr. 1970) J. Harding, Saint-Saëns and His Circle (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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