ECMC will sing Saltarelle, Camille Saint-Saëns's setting of a poem by Émile Deschamps, on our Free & Easy Concert. The French word, saltarelle, comes from the Italian saltarello, which is a traditional Italian dance, usually in compound duple time. Saltarello derives from the Italian verb saltare, which means to jump or to skip.
Saltarelle is a call to the people of Romagna to leave the mountains and plains and to come dance and sing. Here is a performance by Männerstimmen Basel:
Camille Saint-Saëns was born in 1835, eight years after Beethoven’s death. In 1835, while Andrew Jackson was president, the United States government paid off its debt. 1835 was the last and only year that the United States remained debt-free , but that's another story...
While Saint-Saëns’s compositions were not especially innovative, his music could be very evocative. Saint-Saëns is perhaps best known for Carnival of Animals, a work that, except for The Swan, he did not want performed in public:
Another famous work is Danse Macabre, which employs scordatura, the deliberate mistuning of the strings. In this case, the solo violin lowers the pitch of the E string to E flat so that the open strings A and E flat sound a tritone (the devil’s interval):
Saint-Saëns’s disciplined adherence to the classical form, long the object of critical scorn, became a beacon for later composers struggling to cope with the stylistic freedom that had developed prior to the World War I. While Beethoven needed little harmonic invention beyond secondary dominants to serve his needs, within Saint-Saëns's lifetime, Stravinsky, Schöenberg, and Prokofiev were bombarding the public with Le Sacré du Printemps, Pierrot Lunaire, and the Scythian Suite respectively.