Camille Saint-Saëns - Organist, Family and Childhood

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Camille Saint-Saëns's Personal Details

Camille Saint-Saens was the French composer and organist who wrote the opera ‘Samson et Dalila’

InformationDetail
BirthdayOctober 9, 1835
Died onDecember 16, 1921
NationalityFrench
FamousOrganist, Musicians, Pianists, Conductors, Composers
City/StateParis
SpousesMarie Laure Emile Truffot
Known asCharles-Camille Saint-Saëns
Childrens André Saint-Saëns, Jean-François Saint-Saëns
Universities
  • Conservatoire de Paris
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Société Nationale de Musique
Birth PlaceParis
GenderMale
FatherJacques Joseph Victor Saint-Saëns
MotherClémence Saint-Saëns
Sun SignLibra
Born inParis
Famous asComposer, Organist, Pianist
Died at Age86

// Famous Organist

Camille Saint-Saëns's photo

Who is Camille Saint-Saëns?

Camille Saint-Saens was the French composer and organist who wrote the famous opera ‘Samson et Dalila’. A major musical figure of the Romantic era, he was also a very successful pianist and a knowledgeable scholar of music history. He was a child prodigy in music who gave his first concert at the tender age of ten. Furthering his passion for music he studied organ and composition at the Paris Conservatory and went on to pursue a career as an organist at the famed Church of the Madeleine in Paris. A meeting with the celebrated Hungarian composer and teacher Franz Liszt led to an enduring friendship over the course of which Liszt guided and influenced the budding career of the younger Saint-Saens. Over the years he made a name for himself as a brilliant pianist and composer and established himself in a thriving freelance career. He was much sought-after not only in his native France, but also in other European countries, Britain and the Americas. He also held a teaching position once, and even though he taught for less than a period of five years, he left a deep impact on the development of French music. In spite of his illustrious professional career, his personal life was not a happy one, consistently marred by familial problems.

// Famous Conductors

Childhood & Early Life

He was born on 9 October 1835 as the only child of Jacques-Joseph-Victor Saint-Saëns and his wife, Françoise-Clémence in Paris. His father was an official in the French Ministry of the Interior.

Unfortunately Victor Saint-Saens died of an illness shortly after the birth of Camille. Thus he spent his childhood with his mother and her widowed aunt, Charlotte Masson, who taught the young boy the basics of piano playing.

He became a pupil of Camille-Marie Stamaty when he was seven and received excellent training from him. He started displaying his genius from an early age and his mother soon recognized his potential.

He had all the traits of a child prodigy but his concerned mother did not want him to become too famous too soon. Therefore, she restricted the number of public performances he gave. Even though he started performing in front of small audiences from the time he was five, he made his official public debut years later at the age of ten.

Camille proved to be an outstanding student at school and excelled in many subjects like French literature, Latin and Greek, and mathematics. He also developed lifelong interests in philosophy, archaeology and astronomy.

He enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire, France's most important music academy, in 1848. There his student compositions included a symphony in A major (1850) and a choral piece, ‘Les Djinns’ (1850), to a poem by Victor Hugo.

Career

He accepted a position as an organist at the Church Saint-Merry where he worked for four years before moving on to the celebrated Church of the Madeleine in Paris in 1857.

By the time he was in his early twenties he had already written and performed his first and second symphonies. Along side his duties as an organist he also embarked on his career as a piano professor at the Ecole Niedermeyer between 1861 and 1865. One of his pupils, Gabriel Fauré, later on became a renowned pianist in his own right in the future.

He played a key role in the creation of the National Society of Music in 1871 which promoted performances of the most significant French orchestral works of the coming generation. His first symphonic poem, ‘Le Rouet d’Omphale’ (Omphale’s Spinning Wheel), was also produced in the same year.

During the 1870s his music gained international prominence after he undertook a series of European tours to promote his music. He became the most famous French composer of his time with his operas and concerts. A dedicated traveler, he also toured Africa, the Middle and Far East, Russia, and South America.

He was elected to the French Institute in 1881 and over the next 20 years, nine of his new operas were premiered. He lived a long life over the course of which he wrote several operas, composed piano pieces, and also wrote criticism, poetry, essays, and plays.

Major Works

He is best known for his ‘Samson et Dalila’, a grand opera in three acts based on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah found in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. First performed in Weimar at the Grossherzogliches (Grand Ducal) Theater on 2 December 1877, it is his only opera which is regularly performed.

Awards & Achievements

He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1867. Later on, he was promoted to Officier in 1884 and Grand Croix in 1913.

He also received several foreign honors including the British Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1902. In addition he is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the universities of Cambridge (1892) and Oxford (1907).

Personal Life & Legacy

He lived the life of a bachelor until well into his thirties, sharing a home with his mother. Then he fell in love with Marie-Laure Truffot, the young sister of one of his students, and married her in 1875.

The couple had two sons, both of who unfortunately died in infancy. The terrible loss deeply affected the couple and their marriage collapsed. He eventually separated from him wife.

After the breakdown of his marriage he never became involved with any other woman. In his later years he sought solace in the company of his friend and former pupil, Gabriel Fauré, and his family.

He died of a heart attack on 16 December 1921.

// Famous Musicians

Camille Saint-Saëns awards

YearNameAward

Other

Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (1867)
British Royal Victorian Order (1902)

Camille Saint-Saëns biography timelines

  • // 9th Oct 1835
    He was born on 9 October 1835 as the only child of Jacques-Joseph-Victor Saint-Saëns and his wife, Françoise-Clémence in Paris. His father was an official in the French Ministry of the Interior.
  • // 1848
    He enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire, France's most important music academy, in 1848. There his student compositions included a symphony in A major (1850) and a choral piece, ‘Les Djinns’ (1850), to a poem by Victor Hugo.
  • // 1857
    He accepted a position as an organist at the Church Saint-Merry where he worked for four years before moving on to the celebrated Church of the Madeleine in Paris in 1857.
  • // 1861 To 1865
    By the time he was in his early twenties he had already written and performed his first and second symphonies. Along side his duties as an organist he also embarked on his career as a piano professor at the Ecole Niedermeyer between 1861 and 1865. One of his pupils, Gabriel Fauré, later on became a renowned pianist in his own right in the future.
  • // 1871
    He played a key role in the creation of the National Society of Music in 1871 which promoted performances of the most significant French orchestral works of the coming generation. His first symphonic poem, ‘Le Rouet d’Omphale’ (Omphale’s Spinning Wheel), was also produced in the same year.
  • // 1875
    He lived the life of a bachelor until well into his thirties, sharing a home with his mother. Then he fell in love with Marie-Laure Truffot, the young sister of one of his students, and married her in 1875.
  • // 2nd Dec 1877
    He is best known for his ‘Samson et Dalila’, a grand opera in three acts based on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah found in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. First performed in Weimar at the Grossherzogliches (Grand Ducal) Theater on 2 December 1877, it is his only opera which is regularly performed.
  • // 1881
    He was elected to the French Institute in 1881 and over the next 20 years, nine of his new operas were premiered. He lived a long life over the course of which he wrote several operas, composed piano pieces, and also wrote criticism, poetry, essays, and plays.
  • // 16th Dec 1921
    He died of a heart attack on 16 December 1921.

// Famous Pianists

Camille Saint-Saëns's FAQ

  • What is Camille Saint-Saëns birthday?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was born at 1835-10-09

  • When was Camille Saint-Saëns died?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was died at 1921-12-16

  • Where was Camille Saint-Saëns died?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was died in Algiers

  • Which age was Camille Saint-Saëns died?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was died at age 86

  • Where is Camille Saint-Saëns's birth place?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was born in Paris

  • What is Camille Saint-Saëns nationalities?

    Camille Saint-Saëns's nationalities is French

  • Who is Camille Saint-Saëns spouses?

    Camille Saint-Saëns's spouses is Marie Laure Emile Truffot

  • Who is Camille Saint-Saëns childrens?

    Camille Saint-Saëns's childrens is André Saint-Saëns, Jean-François Saint-Saëns

  • What was Camille Saint-Saëns universities?

    Camille Saint-Saëns studied at Conservatoire de Paris

  • Which company or organization was founded by Camille Saint-Saëns?

    Camille Saint-Saëns was the founder/co-founder of Société Nationale de Musique

  • Who is Camille Saint-Saëns's father?

    Camille Saint-Saëns's father is Jacques Joseph Victor Saint-Saëns

  • Who is Camille Saint-Saëns's mother?

    Camille Saint-Saëns's mother is Clémence Saint-Saëns

  • What is Camille Saint-Saëns's sun sign?

    Camille Saint-Saëns is Libra

  • How famous is Camille Saint-Saëns?

    Camille Saint-Saëns is famouse as Composer, Organist, Pianist