Saint-saens photoCharles Camille Saint-Saens was a composer, pianist and organist. He wrote 5 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, the Carnival of the Animals, and the opera Samson and Delilah.

Born in Paris, France in 1835, he was an infant prodigy who started learning the piano aged 3. When only 10, he performed Mozart and Beethoven Piano Concertos. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, and became organist at the Church of the Madeleine.  His piano concertos are brilliant, tuneful, romantic works, quite different from the impressionist style adopted by Debussy, whom Saint-Saens loathed.  His Carnival of the Animals was written as a joke for his friends, but parts of it have endured, especially The Swan, which is a top favourite piece for all cellists. In later years he spent much time in North Africa, and his piano concertos were influenced by the exotica of those regions. He died in Algiers in 1921.