The Carnival of the Animals is a suite for instrumental ensemble written by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886. Premiered in the same year during the Paris Carnival, the work was played twice more before its public performance was forbidden by its composer. Perhaps Saint-Saëns was worried about the criticism he had received: the point of The Carnival of the Animals was to entertain people through music alone, and this humorous element seems to stand out from his other compositions. The 14 pieces that make up the suite are each dedicated to an animal, like a great musical zoo! The score is also tinged with irony: movement No. 11, for example, spotlights representatives of a curious species…The Pianists! This playful interlude in the career of the musician (who, in the same year, devoted himself to the creation of his Symphony No. 3 with organ) never ceases to amuse audiences world-wide, offering joyful melodies to both the young and old!

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A selection of our live streamed performances of Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals are available for free to all registered users, and the rest can be unlocked with a subscription. Our live video events stream right to your living room from the most famous concert halls, and you can watch them on your biggest screens with AirPlay, Chromecast, and our new Roku app! On, you can find some of the best compositions by Saint-Saëns, including The Carnival of the Animals, under the baton of some directors such as Sir Simon Rattle or Gábor Takács-Nagy. Do not miss the best interpretations of Saint-Saëns’ most magnificent composition: discover more on, your #1 classical music streaming channel.

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During the Middle Ages, a literary genre developed and became hugey successful, thanks to its ability to provide vivid descriptions and rouse wonder: the bestiary. Manuscript pages often depicted magnificent representations of animals, creating a universe where a dragon can take its place beside a horse, and where a hippopotamus is no less fantastic than a unicorn! In the same fantastical spirit and eliciting the same taste for wonder centuries later, Camille Saint-Saëns composed The Carnival of the Animals. But here, the magic flows from  musical instruments that bring the voice of the animas to life. Certainly, the composer’s work is inscribed in a tradition of musical pastiche (embodied by Rameau, Offenbach, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Rossini), but Saint-Saëns creates something we could claim to be unique, and tinged with irony. Just as Noah enters his Ark, embark on to listen to Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals!