French Romanticism Features in Camille Saint-Saens’s Music


Camille Saint-Saens is one of the most prominent composers and pianists of the Romantic era whose contribution to the field of conducting and teaching is remarkable. Among Saint-Saens’s works, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor composed in 1863 for Pablo de Sarasate is recognized as an independent and impressive example of the composition which goal is to put an emphasis on the virtuosity of the violinist’s playing. This work is associated with the high-level expressiveness used by Saint-Saens in the majority of pieces. Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor is characterized by the variety of arpeggios, the unique chromaticism, the destabilization of typical patterns and rhythms, the use of harmonic themes, and the focus on scalar passages. This piece also reflects Saint-Saens’s particular style regarding following the habanera rhythm as the framework for the work.

The thesis statement reflects the main idea of this research, and it is formulated the following way: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor is an example of the work that can be discussed as challenging even for a virtuoso violinist because Camille Saint-Saens made the style and structure of the composition complicated, vivid, expressive, dynamic, full of arpeggios, scalar passages, and rich rhythmic patterns; and this composer’s approach should be discussed in detail in the paper. This research aims to address the thesis statement and answer the questions regarding roles of arpeggios, harmonic themes, chromatic sections, and the habanera rhythm in the composition with the focus on the context of French Romanticism.


Stages of collecting and reviewing the literature, formulating the thesis statement, analyzing the music piece, and composing the outline and abstract are completed. The next stage is the writing of the whole fifteen-page paper with the focus on findings from the musical analysis of the piece. At this stage, it is important to overcome the challenge associated with the gap in the literature regarding the scholar analyses and discussions of Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor. Although Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor is one of the most prominent works composed by Camille Saint-Saens that is easily recognized because of its style and melody, the research on this piece is rather limited. As a result, it is a challenging task to support the results of the piece analysis with references to the existing literature on the topic. From this point, the research of the literature for completing the bibliography for this paper should be continued. Much attention is paid to the accurate usage of musical terms to explain the complexity of the composition and its effect on listeners.

One more important stage is the formulation of the thesis based on the conducted research. It should be written according to certain rules and reflect the purpose of the research, as well as its structure. Therefore, the thesis for this paper reflects the topic in general, and it is also focused on details to be discussed in the paper. The other issue was the composition of a comprehensive abstract to address the structure, details, and the purpose of the paper. The two-paragraph structure was selected for this abstract to describe the topic in the first paragraph and concentrate on the thesis and purpose of the research in the second paragraph. Another part of the work that requires much attention is the discussion of Saint-Saens’s style and musical features in the context of the French Romantic music to demonstrate how the composer could add to the development of the instrumental music during the selected period of time.

Works Cited

Auer, Leopold. Violin Master Works and Their Interpretation. New York: Courier Corporation, 2013. Print.

Deruchie, Andrew. “Saint-Saens’s Cyclic Forms.” Formal Functions in Perspective: Essays on Musical Form from Haydn to Adorno. Ed. Steven Vande Moortele, Julie Pedneault-Deslauriers, and Nathan John Martin. New York: Boydell & Brewer, 2015. 123-162. Print.

Flynn, Timothy. Camille Saint-Saëns: A Guide to Research. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Fuld, James. The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. New York: Courier Corporation, 2000. Print.

Gallois, Jean. Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns. London: Editions Mardaga, 2004. Print.

Gutanu, Catalina. “Camille Saint-Saens’s Concept of Violin Concerto.” Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai, Musica 60.1 (2015): 265-273. Print.

Nichols, Roger. Camille Saint-Saëns on Music and Musicians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Ratner, Sabina Teller. Camille Saint-Saëns, 1835-1921: The Instrumental Works. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.

Rees, Brian. Camille Saint-Saëns: A Life. New York: Faber & Faber, 2012. Print.

Sharpe, Roderick, and Jeanne Koekkoek Stierman. Maestros in America: Conductors in the 21st Century. New York: Scarecrow Press, 2008. Print.

Strasser, Michael Creasman. “Camille Saint-Saëns.” Notes 63.2 (2006): 362-364. Print.

Talbot, Michael. The Business of Music. New York: Liverpool University Press, 2002. Print.