Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (1863), and The Carnival of the Animals (1886).
Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy. As a young man, Saint-Saëns 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. He was a scholar of musical history, and remained committed to the structures worked out by earlier French composers.
In the early years of the 20th century, the anonymous author of the article on Saint-Saëns in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians wrote:
“Saint-Saëns is a consummate master of composition, and no one possesses a more profound knowledge than he does of the secrets and resources of the art; but the creative faculty does not keep pace with the technical skill of the workman. His incomparable talent for orchestration enables him to give relief to ideas which would otherwise be crude and mediocre in themselves ... his works are on the one hand not frivolous enough to become popular in the widest sense, nor on the other do they take hold of the public by that sincerity and warmth of feeling which is so convincing.”