Saint-Saëns, Camille


Saint-Saëns, Camille

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 119 (Piano reduction /Solo)


Saint-Saëns, Camille

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 119 (Piano reduction /Solo)

I Allegro moderato e maestoso (p. 1)

II Andante sostenuto (p. 17) – Più mosso (p. 20) – Tempo I (p. 23)

III Allegro non troppo (p. 30) – Cadenza ad libitum (p. 49)

IV Mouvement du premier morceau (p. 50) – Molto allegro (p. 55)


Le niveau de difficulté de l’œuvre est beaucoup très élevé pour qu’il connaisse le même succès que mon premier Concerto pour violoncelle” (“The work’s level of difficulty is far too great for it to have the same amount of success as my first cello concerto”). Thirty years after writing his First Cello Concerto in A minor, op. 33 (1872), which quickly became and has ever remained one of the most popular and effective works in its genre, Camille Saint-Saëns released his Second Cello Concerto for publication, fully aware that it would not take hold to the same degree, or at least not as effortlessly. That it has hardly been played at all is less comprehensible, there being more cellists today than ever before who seek extreme technical challenges and are capable of mastering them. One reason may be that for far too long there was no score available for purchase. It is, of course, remarkable for a composer of Brahms’s generation to write cello music so virtuosic that it sometimes has to be notated on two staves. Our edition, a faithful reproduction of the original Durand print, is the first to appear in 110 years, and will, it is hoped, add the hue of a less familiar item to our concert repertoire.

No less remarkable is the concerto’s layout in two movements subdivided in turn into two distinct sections. The first movement consists of a forceful opening section and a lyrical and ornamental slow section. The second opens with a perpetuum mobile Allegro leading, after a freely declamatory solo cadenza, to a reprise of the start of the opening section and ending with passionate verve in a Molto allegro. Viewed in this light, the concerto conflates elements from two highly disparate forms: the cyclic single-movement form and the traditional form of contrasting concertante sections.

According to an inscription in the manuscript, Saint-Saëns completed his Second Cello Concerto in November 1902 and dedicated it “à Monsieur Hollman,” this being the Maastricht-born Dutch virtuoso Joseph Hollmann (1852-1927). It first appeared in print from the Parisian publishers Durand & Cie. in an edition with solo part and piano reduction (December 1902), followed by the full score and parts from the same publishers (January 1903). The première was given by Joseph Hollmann in Berlin an 4 February 1905. Two years later, on 5 and 12 February 1905, it was given its first hearing in Paris, again by Hollmann, with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris conducted by Georges-Eugène Marty (1860-1908).

Translation: Bradford Robinson, 2013

For performance materials please contact the publisher Durand, Paris (

For more information on the piece:

Read the preface of the full score /  Vorwort zur Partitur lesen > HERE

Score No.






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