Camille Saint-saens (1835-1921)

Episodes

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01Hens, Hugo And Havanaises20131125

Donald Macleod introduces a contrasting trio of pieces Saint-Saens composed in 1887.

Beastly goings on as Noel Coward introduces the Carnival of the Animals. Plus, Saint-Saëns's much-loved Havanaise for violin and orchestra.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 - and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected - seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

The week begins with a contrasting trio of pieces Saint-Saëns composed in 1887, following the huge success of the previous year. "La fiancée du timbalier" is a dramatic scene for soprano and piano, once popular at the BBC Proms but now out of favour - Felicity Lott brings it back to our attention. Then we hear the Latin-tinged Havanaise for violin and orchestra, perhaps the most popular of the composer's later works.

01The Greatest Organist In The World2007070920110711

Saint-Saens was appointed organist at the Madeleine church in Paris at the age of just 22.

Saint-Saëns' appointment as organist at the Madeleine church in Paris in 1857 at the age of 22 was a prestigious one even for a former child prodigy.

Donald Macleod explores how the composer's view from the organ loft shaped his outlook and career.

Saint-Saëns's appointment as organist at the Madeleine church in Paris in 1857 at the age of just 22 was a prestigious one even for a former child prodigy.

Symphony in F (Urbs Roma) (2nd mvt)

Orchestre National de l'ORTF

Jean Martinon (conductor)

Christmas Oratorio (excerpts)

Ute Selbig (soprano)

Egbert Junghanns (baritone)

Jutta Zoff (harp)

Michael-Christfried Winkler (organ)

Dresdner Philharmonie

Dresdner Kreuzchor

Martin Flämig (conductor)

Symphony No 3 in C minor (Organ)

Simon Preston (organ)

Berliner Philharmoniker

James Levine (conductor).

02Memories Of Africa20131126

Donald Macleod focuses on two exotic impressions of North Africa, plus a work for harp.

The composer's exotic musical impressions of North Africa. Plus, a virtuoso showpiece for the harp.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

Saint-Saëns was an avid traveller, and particularly loved spending time under the warm sunshine, blue skies and exotic locales of North Africa. Today, Donald Macleod introduces two rare musical impressions of the composer's travels, plus a dazzling virtuoso showpiece for solo harp.

02The Women In His Life2007071020110712

Donald Macleod on Saint-Saens's relationships with and attitudes towards women.

Donald Macleod looks at Saint-Saëns' relationships with and attitudes towards women, including his adored mother and great-aunt, the twin pillars of support during his childhood; his lasting friendships, and shortlived marriage.

Donald Macleod looks at Saint-Saëns's relationships with and attitudes towards women, including his adored mother and great-aunt, the twin pillars of support during his childhood, his lasting friendships, and his shortlived marriage.

Guitare

Francois Le Roux (baritone)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Piano Quintet in A minor (excerpts)

The Nash Ensemble

Sonata No 1 for cello and piano

Steven Isserlis (cello)

Pascal Devoyon (piano)

Messe de Requiem (excerpt)

Francesco Cera (organ)

Coro della Radio Svizzera

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana

Diego Fasolis (conductor)

Samson et Dalila (Act 1, Sc 6)

Dalila....Waltraud Meier (mezzo-soprano)

Old Hebrew....Samuel Ramey (bass-baritone)

Orchestre de l'Opra-Bastille

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

03A Village Affair And An Egyptian Fantasy20131127

Donald Macleod focuses on Saint-Saens's final and perhaps most virtuosic piano concerto.

As the Dreyfus Affair rocks France, Saint-Saëns takes his leave to Egypt ? to create his last, and perhaps most virtuosic, piano concerto.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

The last years of the 19th century saw intrigue and conspiracy rock French society, as the infamous Dreyfus Affair exposed prejudice and anti-Semitism at the heart of the nation's political life. But for the sixty-something Saint-Saëns, these were years of new horizons. Donald Macleod explores the composer's final piano concerto ? a fantastical impression of his visit to Egypt, and his little-played ballet "Javotte", for which Saint-Saëns drew on his love of traditional, rustic French life.

03The Patriot2007071120110713

Donald Macleod explores Saint-Saëns' progression from maverick - fighting for unfashionable composers and causes - to establishment figure, and looks at one of his most important legacies: the founding of the National Society to promote the new music of French composers.

Donald Macleod on Saint-Saens's progression from maverick to establishment figure.

Donald Macleod explores Saint-Saëns's progression from maverick, fighting for unfashionable composers and causes, to establishment figure, and looks at one of his most important legacies, the founding of the Socit Nationale de Musique in 1871 to promote the new music of French composers.

Suite, Op 16 (excerpt)

Maria Kliegel (cello)

Bournemouth Sinfonietta

Jean-François Monnard (conductor)

Piano Trio No 1 in F

The Florestan Trio

Le rouet d'Omphale

Philharmonia Orchestra

Charles Dutoit (conductor)

Septet

David Guerrier (trumpet)

Renaud Capuçon (violin)

Esther Hoppe (violin)

Batrice Muthelet (viola)

Gautier Capuçon (cello)

Frank Braley (piano)

Janne Saksala (double bass).

04A New Century20131128

Donald Macleod on how Saint-Saens made history with one of the first original film scores.

As the new century dawns, Saint-Saëns composes one of the first-ever original film scores.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

The "Exposition Universelle", or World's Fair, in Paris in 1900 marked an exciting, thrusting new century ? one of electricity, innovation in art and music, and new ideas. But the 65-year-old Saint-Saëns was no relic. In 1908 he made history with one of the first ever original film scores ? written for the silent movie, "The Assassination of the Duke of Guise". We'll hear that pioneering work, as well as a very rare cantata composed to mark the new century, before one of the composer's most beloved concertante works: his Second Cello Concerto, performed by Steven Isserlis

04The Expatriate2007071220110714

After a visit to Algiers, Saint-Saens increasingly sought to escape the 'horrible North'.

After his first visit to Algiers in 1873 Saint-Saëns sought increasingly to escape the 'horrible North', partly for health reasons, and partly to find himself.

Donald Macleod looks at how the composer incorporated the sound of the exotic into his works.

After his first visit to Algiers in 1873, Saint-Saëns increasingly sought to escape the 'horrible North', partly for health reasons, and partly to find himself.

Donald Macleod looks at how the composer incorporated exoticism into his works.

Tournoiement (Songe d'opium)

Francois le Roux (baritone)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Havanaise

Nicola Benedetti (violin)

London Symphony Orchestra

Daniel Harding (conductor)

Suite algerienne (excerpts)

Jody Levitz (viola)

Swiss Italian Orchestra

Francis Travis (conductor)

Piano Concerto No 5 in F

Stephen Hough (piano)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo (conductor).

05 LASTGoodbyes To A Bygone World20131129

Donald Macleod focuses on music composed to raise morale during the First World War.

Saint-Saëns's war service "at the keyboard" ? and a trio of valedictory works for trombone, harp and bassoon.

Camille Saint-Saëns reached the pinnacle of his career in 1886, when both his famous "Carnival of the Animals" and his "Organ" Symphony were first performed. He was 51 ? and yet he'd live on for a further three-and-a-half decades, well into the age of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Poulenc. His late works have often been unfairly neglected ? seen as 'out of time' in a thrusting new century. This week, Donald Macleod explores the charming and eccentric variety of pieces Saint-Saëns left behind from the last decades of his life.

As France experienced the trauma of the First World War, the elderly Saint-Saëns made sure to do his bit ? by composing a series of works to rouse the spirits of the French people. Spirited away from war-torn Paris, and in the company of the Belgian royal family! he set to work on a new work for harp and orchestra: a novel combination even for a composer in his ninth decade. His wanderlust never satiated, Saint-Saëns spent his final years on visits to the USA, where he was appalled by animals in captivity at the zoo in New York, and to Switzerland, where even at the age of 85 he insisted on swimming in the lakes.

05 LASTThe Conservative20070713

In his later years Saint-Saëns resisted the revolutionary changes happening in early 20th century music, and became increasingly isolated.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer's late works and concerns.

Aux conqurants de l'air

Coro della Radio Svizzera

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana

Diego Fasolis (conductor)

String Quartet in E minor

Quatuor Viotti

L'Assassinat du duc de Guise (excerpt)

Ensemble Musique Oblique

Fantaisie for violin and harp

Philippe Graffin (violin)

Catherine Beynon (harp).

05 LASTThe Conservative2011081020110715

Donald Macleod explores Saint-Saëns's late works and concerns.

In his later years Saint-Saëns resisted the revolutionary changes happening in early 20th century music, and became increasingly isolated.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer's late works and concerns.