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Rhapsodie d’Auvergne op. 73 (Camille Saint-Saëns)




Piano piece composed before August 1884, premiered in its orchestral version in December 1884 and dedicated to Louis Diémer (1853–1919). 


The genesis of the Rhapsodie d’Auvergne op. 73 is a complex one. Saint-Saëns first composed a version for solo piano, which he completed before 19 August 1884, when he signed a publishing contract with Durand. This piano version was published in November 1884. A month later, Saint-Saëns completed a version for piano and orchestra, which was premiered by the composer in early December 1884 at the fourth Concert Populaire in Marseille. The publication contract was signed on 1 January 1885 with Durand, who, within a month, published the orchestral parts and then both the orchestral score and a version for two pianos in April 1885. The work is dedicated to Louis Diémer, a close friend of Saint-Saëns, also a renowned pianist and professor at the Paris Conservatoire, who performed it for the first time at the Théâtre du Châtelet on 15 March 1885 during one of the Société Nationale de Musique’s concerts. Little else is known of this opus 73 to this day. Saint-Saëns himself, in November 1912, told his publisher Jacques Durand how surprised he was by the success achieved by the pianist Édouard Risler (1873-1929) in Lausanne with his Rhapsodie d’Auvergne: “I thought this piece had faded into oblivion, and I am quite pleased to see I was wrong.” The work comprises seven sections (Lento ad libitum — Andantino espressivo — Allegretto con moto — Allegro molto — Quasi recitativo — Andantino (tempo primo) — Presto) and three folk-like themes, the main one opening and closing the score. In 1912, Saint-Saëns commented again on his opus 73: “I wrote it some thirty years ago to show that there was no need to look very far for motifs to find usable ones.”

    Persons - 2
  • DIÉMER, Louis (1843-1919)
  • SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)
  • Themes - 2
  • Concert – La Société nationale de musique
  • Genre – Le concerto en France au XIXe siècle