Evening Masterwork: Saint-Saens Symphony No. 1

Camille Saint-Saens (1835 – 1921)

Symphony No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 2 by Camille Saint-Saens

Evening Masterwork for February 28, 2020 – 7:00 PM on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9

It may come as a surprise that Camille Saint-Saens wrote his first numbered symphony at the age of 18; after all, it’s quite a mature sounding work. It’s a work that shifts away from classical-oriented music and towards music that is more at home in the romantic era. In that sense, the symphony is somewhat derivative: there’s hints of Beethoven sprinkled throughout, also Mendelssohn, and the orchestration in particular is quite a bit similar to Berlioz. There’s also a story from the first rehearsal, attended by Berlioz and Gounod where they were commenting on how great this work is, not knowing that the young Saint-Saens was sitting directly behind them and could hear every word. The Symphony No. 1 in E-flat by Saint-Saens, it’s our Evening Masterwork tonight at 7 on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9.