October 9, 1835; his father was Jacques Joseph Victor Saint-Saëns and his mother was Clémence Françoise Collin. When Camille Saint-Saens was merely 3 months old, his father died due to tuberculosis.
Rue du Jardin, Paris, France
December 16, 1921 in Algeria
Also Known As:
He was a French Romantic composer, pianist, organist and writer. He was a prolific composer and writer who created works in varying genres and forms.
Type of Compositions:
Camille Saint-Saëns wrote symphonies, piano and violin concertos, suites, opera and tone poems, among others. His piano teachers include Camille Stamaty and Alexandre Boëly; he also studied harmony with Pierre Maleden. Saint-Saens entered the Paris Conservatory at age 7 studying composition under Jacques-François Fromental Halévy and organ under François Benoist.
His great-aunt, Charlotte Masson, taught him how to play the piano. At 2 years old he could already play the said instrument and at age 3 he composed a piano piece. He made his first public performance when he was 4 and composed a song titled "Le Soir" when he was 5. A more formal public performance occurred when he was 10 on May 6, 1846. That same year, the Société Sainte Cecile gave him an award and later produced his first symphony.
His works include "Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor, Opus 22" (premiered on April 1868, Paris), reportedly composed in 17 days for Anton Rubinstein. Also, "The Swan - Le Cygne" (from Carnival of the Animals), "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso," "Symphony No 3 in C minor," "Samson and Delilah" (an opera) and "Dance Macabre."
At 10 years old Saint-Saens could already play Ludwig Van Beethoven's piano sonatas. He was an organist at Saint Séverin in 1852, then at the Church of Saint-Merry from 1852 until 1857 and then at La Madeleine from 1858 to 1876. He became a professor at the Ecole Niedermeyer from 1860 to 1867 where Gabriel Fauré became one of his students. Saint-Saens and Franz Liszt were good friends.
Other Interesting Facts:
During the Franco-German war, Saint-Saens joined the National Guard. In 1871, he, along with other composers including Gabriel Fauré, established the Société Nationale de Musique which endeavored to promote French music. He was awarded a doctorate in music by Cambridge University (1893) and Oxford University (1913). Saint-Saens was very close to his mother and when she died in 1888, it deeply affected him. He traveled heavily during the 1890s. He was awarded the Grand-Croix of the French Legion of Honor in 1913.
Listen to Camille Saint-Saen's "The Swan" from "Carnival of the Animals" courtesy of YouTube.