Camille Saint-Saëns

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Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁl kamij sɛ̃sɑ̃s]) (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist, known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).

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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. 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 precociousness 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 violin sonata. He went on to begin in-depth study of the full score of Don Giovanni. In 1842, Saint-Saëns began piano lessons with Camille-Marie Stamaty, a pupil of Friedrich Kalkbrenner, 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, with a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major (K. 450), and various pieces by Handel, Kalkbrenner, Hummel, and Bach. As an encore, Saint-Saëns offered to play any of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas from memory. Word of this incredible concert spread across Europe, and as far as the United States with an article in a Boston newspaper.

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