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Carnivals of the Animals Essay

1. The reason why the work was written: Camille Saint-Saens wrote the ‘Carnival of the Animals’ while he was on holiday as a light hearted musical joke. It was originally planned for the students of Sain-Saens at the music school where he taught piano, Ecole Niedermeyer but he had little time to compose. The work was subtitled “Grand Zoological Fantasy” and it became Saint-Saens intent to perform it as a surprise at the annual Mardi Gras concert of cellist Charles Lebouc in Paris in February 1886.

2. Saint Saens’ opinion of the work: The first performance of ‘Carnival of the animals’ was on March the 9th, 1886, peformed by pianists, Saint-Saens and Diemer. Composer and pianist. The work was requested by Franz Liszt to be played again. After the second performance, Saint-Saens refused to allow any more public performances of ‘Carnival of the Animals’ as he highly feared that it would ruin his reputation as a serious composer. His work then remained unpublished except ‘The swan’, publicized in 1887. His will read: “I expressively forbid the publication of any unpublished work, with the expectation of ‘The carnival of the animals’, which may be issued by my usual publishers, the gentlemen Durand and Cie”. After his death in 1921 the full score was published in 1922. Saint Saens composed the work as a musical joke, he thought that if it was published it would ruin his reputation as a serious composer so he did not have it published until after his death (apart from the publication of ‘The Swan’).

3. Romantic Influences that can be identified in the Carnival of the Animals: Saint-Saens used several different concepts to create a romantic aura about the music. ‘Carnival of the animals’ has a distinct song-like melodic line, this has been achieved by combining the fluctuating dynamics and the chromatic chords. Also, Saint-Saens designed his work using robato so the player must feel the music and storyline himself. Saint-Saens created his work for the piano and orchestra just after it was invented. The piano was another romantic influence because it had just recently been invented and it was a very sought after and expensive instrument.

4.My ideas and opinions as to why the work remains a popular significant work: I believe that the work remains this way because the way it was written made it very unique and it also told a story; these things are factors in why it has remained a popular piece for so many years. ‘Carnival of the animals’ shows how to feelings and emotions of something/someone via. music. Another reason was that Saint-Saens was a very famous and talented artist “a virtuoso pianist of the highest order” so most of the work he did was popular, the fact that it has remained popular for so long is because the work was very different from any other and Saint-Saens correlated humour into it.


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