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The Carnival of the Animals

Author: sounding images

05 DEC 2021: It is his best known work. Camille Saint-Saëns did not want it to be published. The music piece itself tells its story.

  • Camille Saint-Saëns with his dog Dalila | Copyright: © Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

    Camille Saint-Saëns with his dog Dalila © Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

  • Gabriela Montero playing piano | Copyright: © Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

    Gabriela Montero playing piano © Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

  • Camille Saint-Saëns writing a letter | Copyright: © BNF / Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

    Camille Saint-Saëns writing a letter © BNF / Dieter Stürmer / sounding images

The “Carnival of the Animals” is his best known work. Camille Saint-Saëns never wanted to publish it during his lifetime. On the 100th anniversary of the composer's death in December 2021, the music piece itself tells us how the dwindling act of birth occurred in the composer's mind. It is the notes that tell us of its suffering and of its triumph on the great stages of the musical world.

According to the will of its creator, Camille Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" was to be performed only once, in March 1886, on Shrove Tuesday. And now this piece has stolen the show from Camille Saint-Saëns' other works for a hundred years. Directors have brought Saint-Saëns' music to Hollywood. At the Cannes International Film Festival, "The Aquarium" is the signature tune.

The film shows that "Carnival" is more than the musical characterization and exaggeration of various species. There are numerous contemporary historical and biographical references in "Carnival", as revealed by Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero, French-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas, and U.S. organist and composer Cameron Carpenter.

For the documentary, musical notes were elaborately animated, telling us the story from the perspective of the piece of music. The role of the narrator was taken over by German actor Sebastian Koch. An orchestra specially assembled for the film lets the music of the "Carnival of the Animals" resound.


Broadcast date: 5 December 2021, 11:10 CET!

Duration 52 minutes
Production year 2021
Co-Production Company WDR
Co-Producer Christian Nurtsch-Wesener
Director Holger Preuße, Philipp Quiring
Producer Claus Wischmann

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