Martha Argerich is an Argentine classical concert pianist. She is considered one of the greatest pianists of all time. Argerich was born in Argentina, her paternal ancestors were Spanish Catalans based in Buenos Aires since the 18th century. Her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire, who settled in Colonia Villa Clara in the Entre Ríos province—one of the colonies established by Baron de Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association; the provenance of the name Argerich is Spain. She started playing the piano at age three. At the age of five, she moved to teacher Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who stressed to her the importance of lyricism and feeling. Argerich gave her debut concert in 1949 at the age of eight; the family moved to Europe in 1955. Juan Perón the president of Argentina, made their decision possible by appointing her parents to diplomatic posts in the Argentine Embassy in Vienna, she studied with Stefan Askenase and Maria Curcio. Argerich seized opportunities for brief periods of coaching with Madeleine Lipatti, Abbey Simon, Nikita Magaloff.
In 1957, at sixteen, she won both the Geneva International Music Competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Competition within three weeks of each other. It was at the latter that she met Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, whom she would seek out for lessons during a personal artistic crisis at the age of twenty, though she only had four lessons with him in a year and a half, her greatest influence was Gulda. Argerich performed her debut concert at the age of 8, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor and Beethoven's First Piano Concerto in C major. Argerich rose to international prominence when she won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965, at age 24. In that same year, she debuted in the United States in Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series. In 1960, she had made her first commercial recording, which included works by Chopin, Ravel and Liszt. In 1967, she recorded Chopin's Polonaise, Op. 53. Argerich has remarked in interviews of feeling "lonely" on stage during solo performances.
Since the 1980s, she has staged few solo performances, concentrating instead on concertos and, in particular, chamber music, collaborating with instrumentalists in sonatas. One notable compilation pairs Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Argerich has promoted younger pianists, both through her annual festival and through her appearances as a member of the jury at international competitions; the pianist Ivo Pogorelić was thrust into the musical spotlight as a result of Argerich's actions: after he was eliminated in the third round of the 1980 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Argerich proclaimed him a genius and left the jury in protest. She has supported several artists including Gabriela Montero, Mauricio Vallina, Sergio Tiempo, Roberto Carnevale Gabriele Baldocci, Christopher Falzone and others. Argerich is the president of the International Piano Academy Lake Como and performs annually at the Lugano Festival, she has created and been a General Director of the Argerich Music Festival and Encounter in Beppu, since 1996.
Her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career. She is recognized as one of the greatest pianists in history, her performance of Liszt's First Piano Concerto conducted by Daniel Barenboim at The Proms 2016 prompted this review in The Guardian: "It was an unforgettable performance. Argerich celebrated her 75th birthday in June this year, but that news doesn’t seem to have reached her fingers, her playing is still as dazzling, as frighteningly precise. This was unmistakably and unashamedly Liszt in the grand manner, a bit old-fashioned and sometimes a bit vulgar at times, but in this of all concertos, with Barenboim and the orchestra following each twist and turn, every little quickening and moment of expressive reflection, it seemed appropriate." Argerich has been married three times. Her first marriage, to composer-conductor Robert Chen, with whom she had a daughter, violist Lyda Chen-Argerich, ended in 1964. From 1969 to 1973, Argerich was married to Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, with whom she had a daughter, Annie Dutoit.
Argerich continues to perform with Dutoit. In the 1970s she was briefly married to pianist Stephen Kovacevich, with whom she has a daughter, Stéphanie. In 1990, Argerich was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. After treatment, the cancer went into remission, but there was a recurrence in 1995 metastasizing to her lungs and lymph nodes. Following an experimental treatment at the John Wayne cancer institute in Santa Monica pioneered by oncologist Donald Morton, Argerich's cancer went into remission again. In gratitude, Argerich performed a Carnegie Hall recital benefiting the Institute; as of 2019, Argerich remained cancer-free. In 2002, director Georges Gachot released Martha Argerich, Evening Conversation, a documentary film about Argerich. Stéphanie Argerich Blagojevic directed a documentary film about her mother, Bloody Daughter, based on film shot since her childhood. Ferruccio Busoni Internati
Claudio Arrau León was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning the baroque to 20th-century composers Bach, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Arrau was a pupil of Martin Krause, a student of Franz Liszt. Arrau was born in Chillán, the son of Carlos Arrau, an ophthalmologist who died when Claudio was only a year old, Lucrecia León Bravo de Villalba, a piano teacher, he belonged to an old, prominent family of Southern Chile. His ancestor Lorenzo de Arrau, a Spanish engineer, was sent to Chile by King Carlos III of Spain. Through his great-grandmother, María del Carmen Daroch del Solar, Arrau was a descendant of the Campbells of Glenorchy, a Scottish noble family. Arrau was raised as a Catholic, but gave it up in his late teens. Arrau was a child prodigy and he could read music before he could read words, but unlike many virtuosos, there had never been a professional musician in his family, his mother was an amateur pianist and introduced him to the instrument.
At the age of 4 he was reading Beethoven sonatas, he gave his first concert a year later. When Arrau was 6 he auditioned in front of several congressmen and President Pedro Montt, so impressed that he began arrangements for Arrau's future education. At age 8, Arrau was sent on a ten-year-long grant from the Chilean government to study in Germany, travelling with his mother and sister Lucrecia, he was admitted to the Stern Conservatory of Berlin where he became a pupil of Martin Krause, who had studied under Franz Liszt. At the age of 11 Arrau could play Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, one of the most difficult works for piano, as well as Brahms's Paganini Variations. Arrau's first recordings were made on Aeolian Duo-Art player piano music rolls. Krause died in his fifth year of teaching Arrau, leaving the 15-year-old student devastated by the loss of his mentor. In 1935, Arrau gave a celebrated rendition of the entire keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach over 12 recitals. In 1936, Arrau gave a complete Mozart keyboard works over 5 recitals, followed with the complete Schubert and Weber cycles.
In 1938, for the first time, Arrau gave the complete Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos in Mexico City. Arrau repeated this several times in his lifetime, including in New York and London, he became one of the leading authorities on Beethoven in the 20th century. In 1937, Arrau married mezzo-soprano Ruth Schneider, a German national, they had three children: Carmen and Christopher. In 1941 the Arrau family emigrated from Germany to the United States settling in Douglaston, New York, where Arrau spent his remaining years, he became a dual U. S.-Chilean citizen in 1979. Arrau died on June 9, 1991, at the age of 88, in Mürzzuschlag, from complications of emergency surgery performed on June 8 to correct an intestinal blockage, his remains were interred in his native city of Chillán, Chile. Daniel Barenboim said that Claudio Arrau had a particular sound with two aspects: first a thickness, full-bodied and orchestral, second an utterly disembodied timbre, quite spellbinding. Sir Colin Davis said: "His sound is amazing, it is his own... no one else has it that way.
His devotion to Liszt is extraordinary. He ennobles that music in a way no one else in the world can." According to American critic Harold C. Schonberg, Arrau always put "a decidedly romantic piano tone in his interpretations". Arrau was an intellectual and a reflective interpreter, he read while travelling, he learned English, Italian and French in addition to his native Spanish. He became familiar with Jung's psychology in his twenties. Arrau's attitude toward music was serious, he preached fidelity to the score, but the use of imagination. Although he played with slower and more deliberate tempi from his middle age onward, he had a reputation as a fabulous virtuoso earlier in his career, a reputation supported by recordings he made at this time, such as Balakirev's Islamey and Liszt's Paganini études; however late in his career, he tended to play with less restraint in live concerts than in studio recordings. Arrau was a man of remarkable fortitude. Numerous pianists studied with Arrau, including Karlrobert Kreiten, Garrick Ohlsson, Nelson Delle-Vigne Fabbri, Roberto Szidon, Stephen Drury and Roberto Eyzaguirre among others.
He was a frequent recital performer: from age 40 to 60 he averaged 120 concerts a season, with a large repertoire. At one time or another, he performed the complete keyboard works of Bach, Mozart and Chopin, it has been estimated that Arrau's total repertoire would carry him through 76 recital evenings, not counting the 60-odd works with orchestra which he knew. Arrau recorded a considerable part of the piano music of Schumann and Liszt, he edited the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for the Peters Urtext edition and recorded all of them on the Philips label in 1962–1966. He recorded all of them once again after 1984 along with Mozart's complete piano sonatas, he is famous for his recordings of Schubert and Debussy. Notable recordings: Bach: Goldberg Variations, partitas 1,2,3 and 5 Beethoven: complete
Johann Georg Leopold Mozart was a German composer, conductor and violinist. Mozart is best known today as the father and teacher of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for his violin textbook Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, he was born in Augsburg, son of Johann Georg Mozart, a bookbinder, his second wife Anna Maria Sulzer. From an early age he sang as a choirboy, he attended a local Jesuit school, the St. Salvator Gymnasium, where he studied logic, theology, graduating magna cum laude in 1735, he moved on to a more advanced school, the St. Salvator Lyceum. While a student in Augsburg, he appeared in student theatrical productions as an actor and singer, became a skilled violinist and organist, he developed an interest, which he retained, in microscopes and telescopes. Although his parents had planned a career for Leopold as a Catholic priest, this was not Leopold's own wish. An old school friend told Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1777. My father thought the world of him, and how he hoodwinked the clerics about becoming a priest!"He withdrew from the St. Salvator Lyceum after less than a year.
Following a year's delay, he moved to Salzburg to resume his education, enrolling in November 1737 at the Benedictine University to study philosophy and jurisprudence. At the time Salzburg was the capital of an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire, now part of Austria. Except for periods of travel, Leopold spent the rest of his life there. Leopold received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1738. However, in September 1739 he was expelled from the university for poor attendance, having "hardly attended Natural Science more than once or twice". In 1740, he began his career as a professional musician, becoming violinist and valet to one of the university's canons, Johann Baptist, Count of Thurn-Valsassina and Taxis; this was the year of his first musical publication, the six Trio Sonatas, Opus 1. These were titled Sonate sei da chiesa e da camera, he continued producing a series of German Passion cantatas. In 1747 he married Anna Maria Pertl, who bore him seven children, although only two of them survived past infancy: Johann Leopold Joachim Maria Anna Cordula Maria Anna Nepomucena Walpurgis Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia, Nannerl Johann Karl Amadeus Maria Crescentia Francisca de Paula Johann Chrysostomus Wolfgang Amadeus In 1743 Leopold Mozart was appointed to a position in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.
His duties included composition and the teaching of violin to the choirboys of the Salzburg cathedral. He was promoted in 1763 to deputy Kapellmeister, he rose no further. The question of whether Leopold was successful as a composer is debated; the Grove Dictionary says that as of 1756, "Mozart was well-known. His works circulated in German-speaking Europe." However, biographer Maynard Solomon asserts that he "failed to make his mark as a composer", Alfred Einstein "judged him to be an undistinguished composer". For discussion of Leopold's musical works, see below. Scholars agree, that Leopold was successful as a pedagogue. In 1755, he wrote his Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, a comprehensive treatise on violin playing; this work was published in 1756, went through two further German editions, as well as being translated into Dutch and French. Today, the work is consulted by musicians interested in 18th century performance practice; this work made a reputation in Europe for Leopold, his name begins to appear around this time in music dictionaries and other works of musical pedagogy.
Leopold discovered that his two children were musically gifted in about 1759, when he began with keyboard lessons for the seven-year-old Nannerl. The toddler Wolfgang began imitating his sister, at first picking out thirds on the keyboard and making rapid progress under Leopold's instruction. By 1762, the children were ready to work as concert performers, Leopold began taking the family on extensive concert tours, performing for both aristocracy and public, throughout central and western Europe; this tour included Munich, Presburg and the Hague together with a lengthy stay in London. The discovery of his children's talent is considered to have been a life-transforming event for Leopold, he once referred to his son as the "miracle which God let be born in Salzburg". Of Leopold's attitude, the Grove Dictionary says: The recognition of this'miracle' must have struck Leopold with the force of a divine revelation and he felt his responsibility to be not a father's and teacher's but a missionary's as well.
By "missionary", the Grove Dictionary refers to the family's concert tours. Scholars differ on. To be sure the children performed before large audiences and took in large sums, but the expenses of travel were very high, no money at all was made during the various times that Leopold and the children suffered serious illnesses. Mozart biographer Maynard Solomon takes the view that the tou
Carl Filtsch was a Transylvanian pianist and composer. He was a child prodigy, student of Frédéric Chopin. Filtsch was born in Mühlbach in present-day Romania, his father, a Lutheran church pastor in Mühlbach, was his first piano teacher. It was his first public success at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Carl and his brother Joseph a child pianist, arrived in Paris on November 29, 1841 and sought out Chopin to be Carl's teacher. Though Chopin never taught children, gave a student more than one lesson per week, he agreed to teach Carl, gave him three lessons per week. Considered Chopin's most talented pupil, Filtsch received high praise from Franz Liszt, Friedrich Wieck, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ignaz Moscheles, the music critic Ludwig Rellstab, fellow child prodigy, Anton Rubinstein. Filtsch began touring Europe on concert tours at the age of 13. After triumphant concerts in Paris and Vienna, his promising career was cut short by an early death in Venice from tuberculosis. According to numerous letters from Chopin and his acquaintances, Chopin considered Filtsch the most worthy interpreter of his music.
A friend of Chopin, Ferdinand Denis, reported in an article in Vienna's Der Humorist in February 1843 that on one occasion after listening to Filtsch, Chopin exclaimed, "My God! What a child! Nobody has understood me as this child has... It is not imitation, it is the same sentiment, an instinct that makes him play without thinking as if it could not have been any other way, he plays all my compositions without having heard me, without being shown the smallest thing - not like me, but not less well." Filtsch, Liszt, Chopin: Piano music - Leonhard Westermayr Mikuli, Filtsch, Gutmann: Piano music - Hubert Rutkowski Mikuli, Filtsch: Violin & piano music - Voytek Proniewicz, Alexander Jakobidze-Gitman Tellefsen and Filtsch: Piano Concerto, Concert Piece, Overture - Hubert Rutkowski, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lukasz Borowicz Carl Filtsch Piano Solo Pieces - Chiyo Hagiwara The Annual Filtsch Piano Competition Konzertstueck by Carl Filtsch Partial list of works
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, virtuoso pianist and conductor of the late Romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular in the Romantic repertoire. Born into a musical family, Rachmaninoff took up the piano at age four, he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 having composed several piano and orchestral pieces. In 1897, following the negative critical reaction to his Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninoff entered a four-year depression and composed little until successful therapy allowed him to complete his enthusiastically received Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1901. For the next sixteen years, Rachmaninoff conducted at the Bolshoi Theatre, relocated to Dresden and toured the United States for the first time. Following the Russian Revolution and his family left Russia. With his main source of income coming from piano and conducting performances, demanding tour schedules led to a reduction in his time for composition. 3, Symphonic Dances. By 1942, his failing health led to his relocation to California.
One month before his death from advanced melanoma, Rachmaninoff was granted American citizenship. In Rachmaninoff's work, early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev and other Russian composers gave way to a personal style notable for its song-like melodicism and rich orchestral colors. Rachmaninoff featured the piano in his compositions, he explored the expressive possibilities of the instrument through his own skills as a pianist, he was born into a family of the Russian aristocracy in the Russian Empire. In their first known genealogy, compiled in the 1680s by Perfiliy Rakhmaninov, the family derives its own origin from the Moldovan rulers Dragoshi, who ruled Moldavia and Wallachia from 1350 to 1552 descending from Vasile, nicknamed Rachmaninov, a son of the Moldavian prince Stephen the Great. Rachmaninoff's family had strong military leanings, his paternal grandfather, Arkady Alexandrovich, was a musician who had taken lessons from Irish composer John Field. His father, Vasily Arkadyevich Rachmaninoff, was an army officer and amateur pianist who married Lyubov Petrovna Butakova, the daughter of a wealthy army general who gave her five estates as part of her dowry.
The couple had three daughters, Rachmaninoff being their fourth child. Rachmaninoff was born in the Semyonovo estate, Zhglovskoy parish, Starorussky County, Novgorod Governorate, it is unclear which of two family estates he was born on: Oneg near Veliky Novgorod, or Semyonovo near Staraya Russa. His birth was registered in a church in the latter, but he was raised in Oneg until age nine and cited it as his birthplace in his adult life, he began music lessons organised by his mother at age four. She noticed his ability to reproduce passages from memory without a wrong note. Upon hearing news of the boy's gift, Arkady suggested she hire Anna Ornatskaya, a teacher and recent graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, to live with the family and begin formal teaching. Rachmaninoff dedicated his piano composition "Spring Waters" from Op. 14 to Ornatskaya. Rachmaninoff's father had to auction off the Oneg estate in 1882 due to his financial incompetence. Rachmaninoff remained critical of his father in life, describing him as "a wastrel, a compulsive gambler, a pathological liar, a skirt chaser".
The family moved to a small flat in Saint Petersburg. In 1883, Ornatskaya arranged for Rachmaninoff, now 10, to study music at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory; that year his sister Sofia died of diphtheria and his father left the family for Moscow. His maternal grandmother stepped in to help raise the children with particular focus on their spiritual life taking Rachmaninoff to Russian Orthodox Church services where he first experienced liturgical chants and church bells, two features he would incorporate in his future compositions. In 1885, Rachmaninoff suffered further loss when his sister Yelena died at age eighteen of pernicious anemia, she was an important musical influence to Rachmaninoff who had introduced him to the works of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. As a respite, his grandmother took him to a farm retreat by the Volkhov River where Rachmaninoff developed a love for rowing. At the Conservatory, however, he had adopted a relaxed attitude and failed his general education classes, purposely altered his report cards in what composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov called a period of "purely Russian self-delusion and laziness".
Rachmaninoff performed at events held at the Moscow Conservatory during this time, including those attended by the Grand Duke Konstantin and other notable figures, but upon failing his spring exams Ornatskaya notified his mother that his admission to further education might be revoked. His mother consulted with Alexander Siloti, her nephew and an accomplished pianist and student of Franz Liszt, who recommended he be transferred to the Moscow Conservatory and receive lessons from his former teacher, the more strict Nikolai Zverev, which lasted until 1888. In the autumn of 1885, Rachmaninoff moved in with Zverev and stayed for four years, during which he befriended fellow pupil Alexander Scriabin. After two years of tuition, the fifteen year old Rachmaninoff was awarded a Rubinstein scholarship, graduated from the lower division of the Conservatory to become a pupil of Siloti in advanced piano, Sergei Taneyev in counterpoint, Anton Arensky in fre
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique, without equal in his generation."Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter—in the last 18 years of his life—he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon, he supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries. In 1835, Chopin obtained French citizenship.
After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin. A brief and unhappy visit to Majorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health, he died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39 of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis. All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces, some 19 songs set to Polish lyrics, his piano writing was technically demanding and expanded the limits of the instrument: his own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin invented the concept of the instrumental ballade, his major piano works include mazurkas, nocturnes, polonaises, études, scherzos and sonatas, some published only posthumously.
Among the influences on his style of composition were Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. Bach and Schubert, the atmosphere of the Paris salons of which he was a frequent guest, his innovations in style and musical form, his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period. Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his association with political insurrection, his high-profile love-life, his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era, his works remain popular, he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity. Fryderyk Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, 46 kilometres west of Warsaw, in what was the Duchy of Warsaw, a Polish state established by Napoleon; the parish baptismal record gives his birthday as 22 February 1810, cites his given names in the Latin form Fridericus Franciscus. However, the composer and his family used the birthdate 1 March, now accepted as the correct date.
Fryderyk's father, Nicolas Chopin, was a Frenchman from Lorraine who had emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of sixteen. Nicolas tutored children of the Polish aristocracy, in 1806 married Tekla Justyna Krzyżanowska, a poor relative of the Skarbeks, one of the families for whom he worked. Fryderyk was baptized on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1810, in the same church where his parents had married, in Brochów, his eighteen-year-old godfather, for whom he was named, was Fryderyk Skarbek, a pupil of Nicolas Chopin. Fryderyk was only son. Nicolas was devoted to his adopted homeland, insisted on the use of the Polish language in the household. In October 1810, six months after Fryderyk's birth, the family moved to Warsaw, where his father acquired a post teaching French at the Warsaw Lyceum housed in the Saxon Palace. Fryderyk lived with his family in the Palace grounds; the father played the violin. Chopin was of slight build, in early childhood was prone to illnesses. Fryderyk may have had some piano instruction from his mother, but his first professional music tutor, from 1816 to 1821, was the Czech pianist Wojciech Żywny.
His elder sister Ludwika took lessons from Żywny, played duets with her brother. It became apparent that he was a child prodigy. By the age of seven Fryderyk had begun giving public concerts, in 1817 he composed two polonaises, in G minor and B-flat major, his next work, a polonaise in A-flat major of 1821, dedicated to Żywny, is his earliest surviving musical manuscript. In 1817 the Saxon Palace was requisitioned by Warsaw's Russian governor for military use, the Warsaw Lyceum was reestablished in the Kazimierz Palace. Fryderyk and his family moved to a building. During this period, Fryderyk was sometimes invited to the Belweder Palace as playmate to the son of the ruler of Russian Poland, Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia. Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, in his dramatic eclogue, "Nasze Przebiegi", attested to "little Chopin's" popularity. From September 1823 to 1826, Chopin
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, the Second Piano Concerto, the First Cello Concerto, Danse macabre, the opera Samson and Delilah, the Third Violin Concerto, the Third Symphony and The Carnival of the Animals. Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire he followed a conventional career as a church organist, first at Saint-Merri, Paris and, from 1858, La Madeleine, the official church of the French Empire. After leaving the post twenty years he was a successful freelance pianist and composer, in demand in Europe and the Americas; as a young man, Saint-Saëns was enthusiastic for the most modern music of the day that of Schumann and Wagner, although his own compositions were within a conventional classical tradition. He was a scholar of musical history, remained committed to the structures worked out by earlier French composers; this brought him into conflict in his years with composers of the impressionist and dodecaphonic schools of music.
Saint-Saëns held only one teaching post, at the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse in Paris, remained there for less than five years. It was important in the development of French music: his students included Gabriel Fauré, among whose own pupils was Maurice Ravel. Both of them were influenced by Saint-Saëns, whom they revered as a genius. Saint-Saëns was born in Paris, the only child of Jacques-Joseph-Victor Saint-Saëns, an official in the French Ministry of the Interior, Françoise-Clémence, née Collin. Victor Saint-Saëns was of Norman ancestry, his wife was from an Haute-Marne family. Less than two months after the christening, Victor Saint-Saëns died of consumption on the first anniversary of his marriage; the young Camille was taken to the country for the sake of his health, for two years lived with a nurse at Corbeil, 29 kilometres to the south of Paris. When Saint-Saëns was brought back to Paris he lived with his mother and her widowed aunt, Charlotte Masson. Before he was three years old he enjoyed picking out tunes on the piano.
His great-aunt taught him the basics of pianism, when he was seven he became a pupil of Camille-Marie Stamaty, a former pupil of Friedrich Kalkbrenner. Stamaty required his students to play while resting their forearms on a bar situated in front of the keyboard, so that all the pianist's power came from the hands and fingers rather than the arms, Saint-Saëns wrote, was good training. Clémence Saint-Saëns, well aware of her son's precocious talent, did not wish him to become famous too young; the music critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote of Saint-Saëns in 1969, "It is not realized that he was the most remarkable child prodigy in history, that includes Mozart." The boy gave occasional performances for small audiences from the age of five, but it was not until he was ten that he made his official public debut, at the Salle Pleyel, in a programme that included Mozart's Piano Concerto in B♭, Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. Through Stamaty's influence, Saint-Saëns was introduced to the composition professor Pierre Maleden and the organ teacher Alexandre Pierre François Boëly.
From the latter he acquired a lifelong love of the music of Bach, little known in France. As a schoolboy Saint-Saëns was outstanding in many subjects. In addition to his musical prowess, he distinguished himself in the study of French literature and Greek, mathematics, his interests included philosophy and astronomy, of which the last, he remained a talented amateur in life. In 1848, at the age of thirteen, Saint-Saëns was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire, France's foremost music academy; the director, Daniel Auber, had succeeded Luigi Cherubini in 1842, brought a more relaxed regime than that of his martinet predecessor, though the curriculum remained conservative. Students outstanding pianists like Saint-Saëns, were encouraged to specialise in organ studies, because a career as a church organist was seen to offer more opportunities than that of a solo pianist, his organ professor was François Benoist, whom Saint-Saëns considered a mediocre organist but a first-rate teacher. In 1851 Saint-Saëns won the Conservatoire's top prize for organists, in the same year he began formal composition studies.
His professor was a protégé of Cherubini, Fromental Halévy, whose pupils included Charles Gounod and Bizet. Saint-Saëns's student compositions included a symphony in A major and a choral piece, Les Djinns, after an eponymous poem by Victor Hugo, he was unsuccessful. Auber believed that the prize should have gone to Saint-Saëns, considering him to have more promise than the winner, Léonce Cohen, who made little mark during the rest of his career. In the same year Saint-Saëns had greater success in a competition organised by the Société Sainte-Cécile, with his Ode à Sainte-Cécile, for which the judges unanimously v