Oratorio De Noël, Op. 12 by Camille Saint-Saëns: Conservative Eclecticism
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractCamille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) is one of the most representative French composers of the nineteenth century. He was, however, often criticized for a lack of passion and emotion because his style derives from adaptation rather than innovation. Even so, I was fascinated by his restrained Romantic style when I encountered the Oratorio de Noël, op. 12 in Choral Literature and Techniques (MUS635) at the University of Arizona in 2016, primarily because the style of his music reminds me of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), but is more diverse. Many of Saint-Saëns’s compositions are based on the Austro-Germanic style. At the same time, his musical style demonstrates a French taste. This mixture of the two styles helps define his individual style, which I call “Conservative Eclecticism.” Oratorio de Noël, op. 12 is an oratorio in French tradition. I will demonstrate Saint-Saëns’s Conservative Eclecticism by comparing and contrasting this work with Mendelssohn’s chorale cantata “Vom Himmel hoch.” By examining the common and different characteristics of the two works, I will clarify how Saint-Saëns developed his own musical style, and help broaden the scope of understanding his aesthetic contribution.
Degree ProgramGraduate College