Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns – Violin Concerto No. 3. In B minor, Op. 61
(b. Paris, 9. October 1835 — d. Algier, 16 December 1921)
After finishing his formal training in composition, piano, and organ at the Paris Conservatory, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) worked as organist at the 16th-century church of Saint-Merri and La Madeleine (1858-1877), the official church of the Empire. The high profile post at La Madeleine exposed Saint-Saëns to a celebrated pipe organ and significant resources as well as a prominent stage to demonstrate his composition and performance skills to a larger (and perhaps more sophisticated) audience. However, Saint-Saëns’ output was not limited to keyboard and sacred works. He was a prolific composer who, by the age of 45, enjoyed international reputation for his orchestral and concertante works. The success of his first four Piano concertos (1858, 1868, 1869, and 1875), Cello concerto (1872), and two violin concertos (1858 and 1859) enhanced his artistic credibility throughout and beyond Europe.
Of the three violin concertos Saint-Saëns composed, the third, Op. 61 (1880), is perhaps the most popular. It was dedicated to the Spanish composer and violinist Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908). Sarastate’s memorable performance of the Saint-Saëns’ Op. 61 took place at the Théâtre du Chatelet on January 2, 1881 and is regarded by some as the concerto’s world premiere, though other sources suggest that the work premiered in 1880 at either at one of Saint-Saëns many soirées or one of Sarasate’s European tours.1 Although Saint-Saëns and Sarasate had a close personal relationship, their professional collaboration can be traced back to 1859, when Saint-Saëns dedicated his Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 20 to the then fifteen-year-old Sarasate. Along with his first violin concerto, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28, was another of the most recognized compositions dedicated to and premiered by Sarasate in 1863. …
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