|Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
|Camille Saint-Saens was born October 9, 1835 in Paris, France. His father, who was 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 years old.|
|1770 - Wolfgang Mozart, age 14, entered the Accademia Filarmonica de Bologna.
1873 - Carl Flesch, Hungarian violinist, was born.
1896 - Premiere of Dvorak's String Quartet No. 13 in G Op. 106, in Prague.
1955 - Premiere of Dimiti Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1. David Oistrakh with Leningrad Philharmonic conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky.
1961 - Ray Charles's single Hit The Road Jack hit #1 on the pop singles chart. Roy Orbison's Crying was #2.
1976 - One hit wonders Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band went to No.1 on the US singles chart with A Fifth Of Beethoven.
1986 - Premiere of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Broadway premiere at the Majestic Theater on 26 JAN 1988..
1998 - The album Janet Jackson was certified double platinum
|Saint-Saens 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 Bibliotheque nationale de France. Saint-Saens' could read and write by age 3 and had learned Latin by age 7.
Saint-Saens 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-Saens' good friends, said, "He knows everything, but lacks inexperience."
Saint-Saens played the organ at various churches in Paris. In 1857, he replaced Lefebure-Wely as organist at the Eglise de la Madeleine. He stayed until 1877. His improvisations at the organ earned Liszt's 1866 observation that Saint-Saens was the greatest organist in the world.
From 1861 to 1865, Saint-Saens held his only teaching position, professor of piano at the École Niedermeyer. The conservative curriculum did not suit him, so he included contemporary works by Liszt, Gounod, Schumann, Berlioz, and Wagner. Among his students were Andre Messager and Gabriel Fauré, who became his closest friend.
In 1871 he co-founded the Societe Nationale de Musique in order to promote a new French music. The Society premiered works by members like Faure, Franck, Lalo, and Saint-Saens himself.
1886 brought two of Saint-Saens' greatest compositions: Le Carnaval des Animaux and the third symphony, dedicated to Franz Liszt, who had died that year.
Saint-Saens 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 ecrivains, 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-Saens died of pneumonia December 16, 1921.
|Can You Guess?
We read that Camille Saint-Saens 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 means the ability to identify any note heard or produce any note referred to by name. It is also called perfect pitch. So if you had perfect pitch and I told you to sing an "A," you could do so . . . perfectly!
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|Phantom of the Opera
Original Cast Recording