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02/18/2013
How Well Do You Know "The Carnival of Animals?"

Forget the Big Top. At tomorrow's performance of The Carnival of Animals by the Virtuoso String Quartet in Martin Hall, you won’t see a circus rolling into town. But what you will see – and hear – is a musical composition about a lion, tortoise, elephant and a whole assortment of wild animals.

Here are some interesting facts you might not have known about Camille Saint-Saens and his famous composition, The Carnival of Animals:

He wrote it just for fun

Saint-Saens wrote Carnival of the Animals in 1886as a fun distraction from working on his Third Symphony; he never intended for it be taken seriously. The full composition wasn't even published until 1992, 71 years after his death. It ended up being one of his most popular compositions.

You’ve probably heard it

The 14-movement composition spawned a multitude of recordings and children’s books, plus a ballet. The “Finale” was part of the score for Disney’s Fantasia 2000. “Aquarium” was covered by surf-rock guitarist Dick Dale, and was used in The Godfather Part II, Babe, Charlotte’s Web, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button– just to name a few.

He was an ambitious composer from the start

Saint-Saens began playing the piano when he was two-and-a-half years old, and composed his first work at the age of three. His ambition never flagged; the original score for Carnival was intended to be played by two pianos, two violins, a viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, and xylophone – and a glass harmonica (also known as armonica).
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