The piano concertos of Saint-Saens with a detailed analysis of no. 5, the "Egyptian".
AuthorSwan, Robert Hathaway.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe five concertos by Charles Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) were the first works in that genre to be written in nineteenth-century France. The composer, a versatile musician of strong intellectual and imaginative power, was one of the great pianists of his era, and his concertos, highly idiomatic for the keyboard, were an important addition to the repertory. They demonstrated coloristic devices not previously employed, and imposed more stringent demands upon virtuoso technique. Saint-Saens' style is a blend of traditional and novel elements. An eclectic and Romantic, he was attracted to melodic and rhythmic patterns of other cultures--particularly the Arabic--and incorporated them judiciously. The most prominent use of such "exoticisms" is found in his Fifth Piano Concerto, the "Egyptian": his crowning work. Although this concerto, deservedly, receives fullest attention, my document gives descriptive and analytic treatment of all five, with emphasis on those distinctive aspects of structure, harmony, rhythm, melody, and orchestration which are the "earmarks" of the composer's genius. An innovator, Saint-Saens was no less a formalist, who anticipated and influenced the neo-classicism of the early twentieth century. The five piano concertos, a distillation of his finest writing, are works of intrinsic and enduring value.