The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What did French composer Camille Saint-Saens think about his own “Organ” Symphony? The Madison Symphony Orchestra will perform three times this weekend.

September 18, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Local business owners Dean and Carol “Orange” Schroeder (below) have a long history of supporting local arts organizations, especially local music groups.

Carol %22Orange%22 and Dean Schroeder

If you recall, two years ago they started the annual Handel Aria Competition that is now held each July in conjunction with the Madison Early Music Festival.

MEMF 2014 Handel Daniel Moody

Now the owners of Orange Tree Imports on Monroe Street have offered The Ear something that might come in handy to thousands of people — and concert-goers — this weekend.

It is a story about what the French composer Camille Saint-Saens thought about his own Symphony No. 3 or “Organ” Symphony, that will be performed in Overture Hall this Friday night at 7:30 p.m., Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. by the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below top) under music director and conductor John DeMain (below bottom).

For more about the MSO concert — with information about the tickets, the program, artist biographies and program notes — here is a link to an earlier post this week:

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

John DeMain full face by Prasad

It is always interesting to see what a composer thinks or says about a specific work. Creating a work of art remains something of a mystery to those of us who do not or cannot do so. (You can hear the stirring finale of the work by Saint-Saens for organ and orchestra in a popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

The Ear finds it particularly interesting in the case of Saint-Saens (below, at the piano, in a Corbis photo from around 1900). He was one of history’s greatest child prodigies (on par with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn) and remains one of the most underrated and underperformed of all composers, along with Franz Joseph Haydn and Gabriel Faure.

Camille Saint-Saens at the piano

Anyway, here is what Saint-Saens had to say about the “Organ” Symphony he had composed – he considered it a major labor and achievement — coupled with a fine analysis by music writer Tom Service. The story comes from a series, which you might want to explore further via a link on this one, from The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom.

Thank you, Dean and Orange Schroeder!

And I welcome suggestions or contributions from others.


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