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Camille Saint-Saëns

Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a French composer, conductor, pianist and organist. A significant figure in neoclassicism, he did a lot for the new kind of music despite being no revolutionary. Classical music schooling, plasticity, elegance and clarity pervade his works. Saint-Saëns was born in Paris, and he demonstrated his talent for music at a very early age; Liszt, Rossini and Berlioz all spoke highly of him. By the age of 7 he was already studying composition, he gave his first public concert at 11, and as a 13-year-old he began studying at the Conservatoire under Halévy and Gounod, among others. At eighteen he became the organist of the Saint Merry Church and La Madeleine in Paris, between 1861 and 1865 he taught at the École Niedermeyer where Fauré was one of his students. But he soon quit his career as an organist to devote all of his energies to composing. In 1871 he was one of the founders of the Société Nationale de Musique (National Society of Music) whose mission was to promote contemporary French music. His First Piano Concerto premiered in 1858, his First Violin Concerto a year later. His Second Piano Concerto in G minor, written in 1868, was well received even by Liszt, while the 1863 premiere of his Introduction et Rondo capriccioso was also a great success. His Cello Concerto in A minor and the Danse macabre, which premiered in 1872 and 1874 respectively, are also significant. Franz Liszt conducted the world premiere of his opera Samson and Delilah in Weimar.