What does Saint-Saëns’s opinion about The Swan tell us?

I bought a hard-to-find hardback copy of the composer Saint-Saëns’s biography as a present to my PhD supervisor. Although I didn’t know who Saint-Saëns was then, and only do so now because my wife knows her stuff when it comes to classical music, a little story I heard about him has stuck in my mind.

Apparently, Saint-Saëns hated “The Swan” – one of the most recognisable parts of one, if not the most famous, of his compositions: The Carnival of the Animals. It goes like this:

Saint-Saëns’s hatred of the piece stems from its popularity: he detested the fact that what he considered to be so simple a piece was so popular with the public.

This set me to thinking about elitism, populism and perceptions of these from the different standpoints they represent. There’s a parallel to be drawn between the purveyors of policy and the practitioners of politics, too.

The thing is, I’m not quite sure what it is yet. But I know that Saint-Saëns’s views resonated for some reason.

If anyone cares to enlighten me, therefore, please do…


YouTune no.29: Brett Domino special

I’ll put a warning on this one straight away: if you haven’t heard or seen Brett Domino yet, and you have a slightly off sense of humour (like I do), then I recommend you come back when you have a couple of hours spare. Once you’ve seen the videos below, you’ll want to get some more.

Quite aside from the brilliance of the idea, the ability to execute these medleys in the way they are, with the production values and attention to detail, is second to none.

I commend to you Brett Domino. First up, the Justin Timberlake Medley:

Second, a cover of Bad Romance: