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June 26
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French composer Camille Saint-Saens was given the Mus.D degree at Oxford on June 26, 1907.

Saint-SaŽns was born October 9, 1835 in Paris, France.  His father, a clerk, died when he was three months old.  His mother's aunt, Charlotte Masson, moved in and started teaching Camille the piano when he was two.
1870 - Premiere of  Richard Wagner's opera  Die Walkure (The Valkyrie) The opera was performed at the Bavarian King Ludwig II's request, but against the composer's wishes.  Click here to listen to a MIDI version of the famous Ride of the Valkyrie.

1912 - Premiere of Mahler's Ninth Symphony.  It was performed posthumously. Bruno Walter conducting in Vienna..

1964 - The Beatles released their album, A Hard Dayís Night.

1971 - Juan de Manen,  Catalan composer, violinist and pianist died in Barcelona..

1986 - Premiere of E. T. Zwilich's Piano Concerto. Marc-Andrť Hamelin, soloist with Detroit Symphony with GŁnther Herbig conducting.

2000 - Premiere of Robert Kapilow's D. C. Monuments by the National Symphony.
Camille Saint-SaŽns
Saint-SaŽns was a child prodigy. He had perfect pitch and began composing almost immediately. His first composition, a piece for the piano dated March 22, 1839, is kept in the BibliothŤque nationale de France. Saint-SaŽns' could read and write by age 3 and had learned Latin by age 7.

Saint-SaŽns gave his first public piano performance at age 5, when he accompanied a Beethoven violin sonata.  At 10 he gave his debut recital at the Salle Pleyel, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major and works by Handel, Kalkbrenner, Hummel, and Bach.  He offered to play any of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas by memory for his encore.

In the late 1840s he entered the Paris Conservatory to study organ and composition. He won many top prizes, but did not to win the prestigious Prix de Rome in both 1852 and 1864. He met Franz Liszt, who became one of his closest friends. At 16, he wrote his first symphony; his second, published as Symphony No. 1 in E-flat major, was performed in 1853, amazing many critics and fellow composers. Hector Berlioz, who became one of Saint-SaŽns' good friends, said, "He knows everything, but lacks inexperience."

Saint-SaŽns played the organ at various churches in Paris. In 1857, he replaced Lefťbure-Wely as organist at the …glise de la Madeleine. He stayed until 1877. His improvisations at the organ earned Liszt's 1866 observation that Saint-SaŽns was the greatest organist in the world.

From 1861 to 1865, Saint-SaŽns held his only teaching position, professor of piano at the …cole Niedermeyer. The conservative curriculum did not suit him, so he included contemporary works by Liszt, Gounod, Schumann, Berlioz, and Wagner. Among his students were Andrť Messager and Gabriel Faurť, who became his closest friend.

In 1871 he co-founded the Sociťtť Nationale de Musique in order to promote a new French music.  The Society premiered works by members like Faurť, Franck, Lalo, and Saint-SaŽns himself.

1886 brought two of Saint-SaŽns' greatest compositions: Le Carnaval des Animaux and the third symphony, dedicated to Franz Liszt, who had died that year.

Saint-SaŽns was truly astonishing intellectually. He studied geology, archaeology, botany, and lepidoptery. He was an expert at mathematics. He wrote scholarly articles on acoustics, occult sciences, Roman theater decoration, and ancient instruments. He wrote  a volume of poetry, and La Crampe des ťcrivains, a successful play. He was also a member of the Astronomical Society of France; he gave lectures on mirages, had a telescope made to his own specifications, and even planned concerts to correpsond to astronomical events such as solar eclipses.   In recognition of his accomplishments, the government of France awarded him the Legion of Honour.

Camille Saint-SaŽns died of pneumonia December 16, 1921.
Violinist Jascha Heifetz plays Saint Saens
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Can You Guess?
We read that Camille Saint-SaŽns had "perfect pitch."
Can You Guess just what is perfect pitch?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer
Did You Guess?
Perfect pitch has nothing to do with baseball. It means the
ability to identify any note heard or produce any note referred to by name. It is also called absolute pitch. So if you had perfect pitch and I told you to sing an "A," you could do so . . .
Violinist Jascha Heifetz plays Saint Saens
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Saint-Saens, Lalo
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Jascha Heifetz
Incuding Saint-Saens
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