Saint-Saëns and wind bands

I recently received a copy of a splendid book by Fabien Guilloux and Emanuele Marconi, from the Institut de Recherche en Musicologie and Le Musée des Instruments à Vent (La Couture-Boussey). I can recommend it as a fascinating examination of the role the composer played in the development of music for wind bands, and it is full of historical detail of the background of musical instrument history and the ensembles and music concerned. The text is in both French and English, and the book can be obtained via the museum’s website:

“On the occasion of the centenary of the death of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921), the Wind Instruments Museum of La Couture-Boussey and the Institute for Research in Musicology are joining forces to discover a little-known facet of the musician’s personality: his constant commitment to wind instruments, at a time when such interest is rather rare on the part of renowned composers. His long artistic career corresponds to one of the most inventive periods in the history of music instruments making: flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets gradually adopt the modern form that we know today and the new families of saxophones, saxhorns or sarrussophones, born from the intuition of genius makers, enrich the sound palette of the orchestra. Curious by nature, tireless explorer, always in search of new associations of timbres, passionate about acoustic and technical inventions, Saint-Saens mingles with this breath of modernity. From the Tarentelle for flute and clarinet Op. 6 (1857) until the Sonata for bassoon and piano Op. 168 (1921), he composed some fifty works dedicated to wind instruments and surrounded himself with the best performers. By exploiting all the technical possibilities of the winds and their expressive richness, Saint-Saens thus opens the way to a renewal of the repertoire.” 

Here are a couple of images from this richly illustrated book.

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