The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Does a clarinet sonata by Camille Saint-Saens sound like “On, Wisconsin”? Tell The Ear.

June 27, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

There The Ear was, sitting at home the other afternoon earlier this past week and listening to Wisconsin Public Radio’s afternoon music program.

And I thought I heard “On Wisconsin,” the contagious rah-rah fight song for the Badgers in all kinds of sports at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Now that song is of course a favorite, but I would hardly call it classical music, though it is undeniably a classic as far as The Ear is concerned.

So I listened to the host when she identified the piece and the composer.

It was the lovely Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 167, by the 19th-century French composer Camille Saint-Saens (below) who, along with Gabriel Faure, is one the most under-appreciated of all classical composers.

Camille Saint-Saens

Am I the only one who thinks that the main theme of the sonata, a theme that gets repeated several times, even in different movements, sounds a lot like “On, Wisconsin”?

Here are the two different melodies.

Or are they different?

Take a listen to the two YouTube videos that are below.

Decide for yourself.

Then please use the REPLY or COMMENT section to let me and other readers know what you think.



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