Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (1868) – Camille Saint-Saëns

Camile Saint Saens

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 -1921)

Today’s music piece is the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Camille Saint-Saëns. Saint-Saëns was born in Paris and was one of the most remarkable child prodigies in music-history, which included Mozart. Before he was three years old he displayed perfect pitch and enjoyed picking out tunes on the piano and by the age of ten he made his official public debut, at the Salle Pleyel, in a programme that included Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B♭.

Early in his career he was a church organist which earned him a handsome living. The Parisian parish where he performed had 24,000 parishioners and if you consider the organist fees from the hundreds of wedding and funerals Saint-Saëns lived very comfortably. He was enthusiastic for the most modern music of the day, particularly that of Schumann, Liszt and Wagner, although his own compositions were generally within a conventional classical tradition.

When he became a teacher he scandalised some of his more austere colleagues by introducing his students to the aforementioned composers. Saint-Saëns further enlivened the academic regime by writing, and composing incidental music for, a one-act farce performed by the students. He conceived his best-known piece, The Carnival of the Animals, with his students in mind, but did not finish composing it until 1886, more than twenty years after he left the Niedermeyer school.

Saint-Saëns wrote the Piano Concerto No. 2 in just 3 weeks and reportedly had very little time to prepare for the premiere. But it remains probably his most popular piano concerto. Fellow French composer Georges Bizet who has featured here before wrote a transcription of the concerto for solo piano. The performance below of the Piano Concerto No.2 is by the London Symphony Orchestra with Arthur Rubinstein on piano. Arthur Rubinstein has been described as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. He played in public for eight decades! Coincidentally a composer by the name of Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra at the premiere.

1. Wikipedia – Piano Concerto No. 2 (Saint-Saëns)
2. Wikipedia – Camille Saint-Saëns

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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15 comments on “Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (1868) – Camille Saint-Saëns
  1. When I was 14 Arthur Rubinstein shook my hand and said “How do you do?” – so I’m famous. Thanks for the Saint-Saëns posting. I didn’t know this concerto at all and enjoyed listening.

    • Wow, Bruce I’m impressed. It appears that some of that talent rubbed off! How did you come by meeting Arthur Rubinstein?

      • I went to his concert in Wellington – I think it was 1964. At the end of the concert I dashed out the back and he walked past, shook my hand and said “How do you do?” I’ve waited since for a single fan so I could pass the “How do you do?” on!

      • Wow, what a marvelous encounter Bruce! You must have been delighted. I can see it was worth the wait. lol But seriously I was in awe of his deft touch of the piano for someone of his age. Remarkable. It must have been great to see him perform and meet him!

      • The meeting was all of 5 seconds but I bet he remembered it all his life!! I thought it was the bee’s knees!

      • How couldn’t he have not held the encounter dear to his soul? I bet he was similarly chuffed!

      • We had an LP at home of him playing Chopin’s waltzes. My sister, who was into rock n Roll played the Chopin day and night – so I got to recognize them fairly well! (My keyboard is playing up – needs a new batttttttery)

      • Your sister was into both Chopin and Rock’n Roll? That’s some taste!
        This is a lovely endearing family memory Bruce and I’m so glad you shared it. I feel like I’m along side you hearing it as a young-en.
        (I know only too well of that battery dilemma, however in my case it’s for my wretched mouse)

  2. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh my god, Rubinstein DID have a deft touch, didn’t he? His hands moved like those of someone much, much younger. Which goes to show…with some genetic luck and the gift of good health, age IS all in the mind, isn’t it?

    I like that piece, especially the flowing notes.Hilarious that he caused a “scandal” by introducing students to the likes of Liszt and Wagner–those rabble-rousers! Those auditory deviants, lol !!

    Funny thing about Camille Saint-S: he looks a lot like my mentor from the ’80s to the ’90s (except for the nose). If you recall Bob from my book, the pompous guy who runs Now, he was based on my real-life mentor, and now Camille Saint-S is reminding me of him too, lol!
    We stopped speaking in the ’90s. Haven’t heard from him since!

    • Hi Stace, I hope this message finds you and your husband well in this bizarro world we live in!
      I know! The movement and touch of his hands in the video is extraordinary to see. I’m glad you like this piano concerto. Classical music like this can be very soothing for the soul. I am beginning to understand why my Grandmother was rarely seen in her apto without classical music playing.

      That’s fascinating that Bob was based on your mentor and that Camille reminds you of him as well. That’s too bad you stopped speaking. It’s sad when I think of the old friends and mentors who now just remain memories. Hmm.

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    We’re doing pretty well in bizarro universe, Matt! How are you? I guess you’re good, since you probably wouldn’t be blogging with a 104 temperature.

    I know what you mean about normal fall off, how time and distance and the ways we change as we get older causes a slough off of old friends. That’s sad sometimes. My mentor, though, was a different thing. We got into a disagreement and he was fairly abrupt and we parted ways not on a good note. Oh, well! If he’d been a true friend, he would have been open to discussion, so obviously it was all just an illusion!

    • I’m glad it’s all smooth sailing in your part of the world. I am doing fine, but I do miss not being able to go out and catch up with people or simply going for a jog. I’m concerned how all this will impact the less fortunate in society.

      I’m sorry you parted ways on that disagreement. Sometimes it’s for the best.

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    So glad you’re doing okay. Try not to think about the jogging and corner cafe too much! It’ll only make it worse, ha ha. We who are more fortunate are stressed out enough; I can’t even imagine, like you say, what others are going through. There are some ways to donate and help; I’m wary of that, though, worried about the $$ going where it’s supposed to go.

    Hang in there. Talk to you soon.

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:


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