A Zoological Romp – The Listeners’ Membership

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In February of 1886, Camille Saint-Saëns put aside work on his Third Symphony to have interaction in a short burst of compositional frivolity. He admitted to his publishers that it was “such enjoyable” he couldn’t resist.

The piece in query was The Carnival of the Animals, a humorous musical suite made up of fourteen brief, parody-filled actions. Every motion depicts a particular animal and has impressed quite a few texts, which embrace poetry written by Ogden Nash in 1949. In its authentic type, the piece was scored for a chamber ensemble which was anchored by two pianos and included glass harmonica (now normally performed by the glockenspiel or celesta) and xylophone. Maybe initially supposed for the composer’s college students, the Suite acquired solely personal performances. Involved that The Carnival of the Animals would harm his fame as a “severe” composer, Saint-Saëns insisted that the Suite not be revealed or publicly carried out throughout his lifetime. Finally, it was revealed in 1922 and has since change into probably the most well-known and beloved works of Saint-Saëns.

I. Introduction and Royal March of the Lion 

The animal kingdom comes alive with cacophonous piano tremolos and wild imitative contrapuntal strains. The Lion’s stately theme is interspersed with “roaring” glissandi.

II. Hens and Roosters 

The strings and piano evoke persistent pecking and the crowing of a rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

III. Wild Donkeys – Swift Animals

This motion depicts the quickest of animals, with the pianists working up and down the keyboard in a feat of finger-twisting agility.

IV. Tortoises

The well-known Galop infernal from Offenbach’s zany opera, Orpheus within the Underworld is slowed to a crawl.

V. The Elephant

With a cumbersome waltz marked Allegro pomposo, the basses lumber. This theme is predicated on two items that are usually mild and effervescent—Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Evening’s Dream, and Berlioz’s Dance of the Sylphs from The Damnation of Faust.

VI. Kangaroos 

Ascending and descending triads within the piano with grace notes recommend the hopping movement of Australia’s well-known marsupials.

VII. Aquarium 

This motion is crammed with brilliant colours and movement which evokes magical fluid depths. The excessive, shimmering keyboard strains create a particular sound that we hear all through the music of Saint-Saëns.

VIII. Characters with Lengthy Ears

Within the violins, we hear the “hee-haw” braying of a donkey. Some listeners have speculated that on this transient motion, Saint-Saëns was making a refined reference to the commentary of music critics.

IX. The Cuckoo within the Depths of the Woods

Amid the piano’s pensive chords, the repeated name of the cuckoo will be heard within the clarinet.

X. Aviary

Excessive above the sounds of the jungle, the flute swoops and dives with the liberty of a fowl gliding via the air.

XI. Pianists 

Pianists are satirized because the craziest animals of all. The pianists run up and down the keyboard with a parody of countless scales and Hanon workout routines. We get a way that the exercise is extra athletics than music. Pounding triads announce the following mechanical line.

XII. Fossils

The sound of the xylophone suggests hole bones knocking collectively. On this motion, Saint-Saëns combines fragments of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and the French patriotic tune, Partant pour la Syrie, with a quote of his personal Danse macabre.

XIII. The Swan

Simply earlier than the Suite’s finale comes its most soulful and enduring second. The cello depicts the serene movement of the swan gliding on water.

XIV. Finale

The Carnival of the Animals concludes with a frolicking ballet-style finale, by which the entire creatures reappear in a grand zoological procession. 

This 1980 recording options Cristina Ortiz and Pascal Rogé with Charles Dutoit and the London Sinfonietta:


  • Saint-Saëns: The Carnival of the Animals, Cristina Ortiz, Pascal Rogé, Charles Dutoit, London Sinfonietta Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A local of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin part since 2001. He’s a graduate of the Eastman Faculty of Music the place he earned the levels Bachelor of Music and Grasp of Music, learning with world famend Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public college music educators, Timothy Judd started violin classes on the age of 4 via Eastman’s Neighborhood Training Division. He was a scholar of Anastasia Jempelis, one of many earliest champions of the Suzuki methodology in the US.

A passionate trainer, Mr. Judd has maintained a non-public violin studio within the Richmond space since 2002 and has been energetic teaching chamber music and quite a few youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys figuring out with Richmond’s fashionable SEAL Group Bodily Coaching program.


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