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Valse nonchalante op.110 (Camille Saint-Saëns)

Date

1898

Text

Published by Durand in September 1898, the Valse nonchalante was premiered by its composer at the Teatro São Pedro de Alcântara in Rio de Janeiro on 18 June 1899. Saint-Saëns had presented his new composition to Durand in a letter dated 15 June 1898: ‘Gentlemen! I have the honour of announcing the birth of a daughter answering to the name of Valse nonchalante, with five flats in the key signature. It is intended for the ‘Christmas Number’ of Le Figaro illustré and I did not believe I had to request your authorisation to grant this favour to the aforesaid newspaper. Of course, you are perfectly at liberty to publish it at a later date (if I dare so express myself).’ He orchestrated the piece in 1921 for the ballerina Stacia Napierkowska, of Polish descent but born in Paris, whom he found ‘utterly charming’. He had dedicated the piano version to Princess Hélène Bibesco, the Romanian patron of the arts and pianist (and also aunt of the writer Anna de Noailles), who responded to the tribute in these terms: ‘I have been assured that Reyer vowed never to write an article without introducing the name of Berlioz into it. I promise myself, for my personal satisfaction, that I shall never allow myself to be requisitioned as a pianist without permitting the winged rhythm of your delightful waltz to flutter across the keyboard.’ The appealing melody and the surges of sensuality of the Valse nonchalante, written in the style of the valses de café-concertof the period (though more demanding technically), must have been much enjoyed in the salons. Saint-Saëns himself seems to have had a soft spot for the piece, which he recorded in 1904.

    Person - 1
  • SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)
  • Themes - 2
  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique
  • Piano – Le répertoire pour piano à l’orée du XXe siècle