Donald Macleod delves into the character and music of Camille Saint-Saëns

This week’s episode begins with a look at Saint-Saëns the innovator, who introduced new-fangled ideas to an opera-loving Parisian public. Donald investigates the driving force behind the composer’s unstoppable ambition and his dogged determination to find an audience for his music. Next, the playful side of Saint-Saëns’ character – one which he kept under wraps in public, yet amongst friends and in private correspondence he sparkled with wit, and it reveals itself in some of his most popular and enduring music. We hear about the many obstacles Saint-Saëns encountered in his attempts to be recognised as a serious operatic composer, and finally, the composer’s critical views on emerging musical trends in the final decades of his life, when he was condemned as a reactionary for his outmoded attitudes.

Music featured:
Guitares et mandolines
Piano Trio No 1 in F, Op 18 (1st mvt)
Piano Concerto No 2
Danse Macabre
Piano Quintet in A minor Op 14 (final mvt)
Cello Concerto No 1
La Cigale et la Fourmi
Wedding Cake Waltz
La Coccinelle
Suzette et Suzon
Tournoiement ‘Songe d’opium’
Six Studies for the Left Hand, Op 135 (Nos 4, 5 & 6)
Le Carnaval des Animaux
La Princesse Jaune: Overture
O Cruel Souvenir (Henry VIII)
Samson et Dalila: Act II (excerpt)
Bacchanale (Samson et Dalila)
Proserpine: Act II (excerpt)
L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise (5th tableau)
Fantaisie for violin and harp
Piano Concerto No 5 (1st mvt)
Romance for flute and piano
Organ Symphony (2nd mvt)

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Deborah Preston for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Camille Saint-Saëns:

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here:

from Composer of the Week