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Classical Sprouts: Saint-Saens 'The Swan'

"The Carnival of the Animals" is a suite of music written by French composer, Camille Saint-Saens.

Each movement is meant to sound like a different animal!

This week on Classical Sprouts, we’re listening to the movement called "The Swan."

It was actually the only movement from the suite (and there are fourteen movements…) that Saint-Saens allowed to be performed publicly in his lifetime!

He thought the other movements were too silly and would make him seem like he wasn’t a “serious” enough composer.

In addition to music for each type of animal in the suite, Saint-Saens also added narration that is performed alongside the piece, in the point of view of each animal!

You can listen to the entire piece, including the narrated parts here:

"The Swan" has become standard repertoire for cello players, and continues to be one of the most famous movements from the suite.

The piece’s tempo is marked andantino grazioso, which means a tempo that is very slow and graceful.

FUN FACT: Because of this slow tempo it’s actually quite suitable for performance on the theremin! An electronic instrument played by very specific hand movements that is VERY difficult to play.

This piece is in 6/4 time, which means there are 6 beats per measure.

Count along with Kate, and hear the narration that accompanies this movement in the episode!

Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".