Camille Saint-Saëns(1835 – 1921)
was a French composer, pianist and organist. He has already shown great talent in different aspects at his young age, particularly his high sensitivity of voice and extraordinary ability to memorize things. He:
-Started learning piano at the age of 2.5
-Started composing songs and learned to write at the age of 3
-Studied Latin at the age of 7
-Had his first public performance at the age of 8, and held his first solo piano concert at the age of 10
-Entered Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 12
-Composed a symphony at the age of 16
Is a productive composer as he composed 5 pieces of symphony, 5 pieces of piano concerto, 3 pieces of violin, 2 pieces of cello concerto, 13 opera pieces and heaps of other musical pieces (including Carnival of Animals) in his 80 years of production period.
Why did Saint-Saëns know so well about animals?
Saint-Saëns was an all-rounded person, knowledgeable about geology, archeology, botany, entomology, astronomy and Mathematics! Don’t think that he was just at the beginner level! Indeed, he treated every subject very seriously, and often carried out thoughtful discussions with a number of eminent scientists.
Apart from studying, he also loved travelling, and had left his footprint in different parts of the world like Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. With the pen name of Sannois, he also compiled his travelling experiences into a number of best-selling books!
No wonder Saint-Saëns could know so much about different animals, and could capture their different characteristics in his music so well!
Saint Saëns is a “serious composer”!
Talking about Saint-Saëns, his famous piece “Carnival of Animals” will immediately pop up in everyone’s mind. At the beginning, he just randomly wrote some bars of the song, and used different musical instruments to imitate the features of animals and teach his students. But after numerous discussions with his friends, Saint-Saëns started to modify it and became highly engaged in composing the musical piece. He could not withdraw himself from the “Carnival of Animals” even after he has started another long piece of symphony. However, to our surprise, Saint Saëns did not really want to admit that this is his piece of work! During his years, he only allowed the “Swan”, the elegant piece we often hear in ballet performance, to be published. What made him think like this? The reason is... he found the “Carnival of Animals” too funny and would make an unacceptably big contrast with is “serious image”!
He even made a will to state that the entire piece of “Carnival of Animals” could only be released after his death! However, this entertaining, lively and educational piece of music has become the all-time favorite of music teachers, parents and kids and a piece to be remembered! Dear Uncle Saint Saëns, we really appreciate your enthusiasm in developing interesting educational materials for us. Your sense of humor and enthusiasm in education and music will surely not affect your “serious image”! Let us give you a salute!