Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/227

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ST. JAMES'S HALL CONCERT ROOMS.

ipensations, working expenses, etc. It was

jn unknown that between Regent Street and Piccadilly was the ancient boundary of Thorney Island with its quicksand, but this was en- countered in the course of the building, and had to be saturated with concrete at great cost, in order to make a sure foundation. Other demands raised the cost of the building to beyond 70,000. The Great Hall was opened to the public on March 25, 1858, with a concert for the benefit of Middlesex Hospital, given in presence of the Prince Consort.

The principal entrance to the Great Hall is from Regent Street, and that to the Minor Hall from Piccadilly the former street being higher than the latter. The dimensions of the Great Hall are 139 feet in length, 60 in height, and 60 in breadth. It will seat on the Ground Floor noo ; in the Balcony 517 ; in the Gallery 210; in the Orchestra 300; total 2127. The above is as the numbered benches and seats are usually arranged, but, by placing the seats closer together, many more persons can be seated. Under the further part of the Great Hall is the Minor Hall, 60 feet by 57, having also a Gallery, an Orchestra, and a small room. Under the Regent Street end of the Great Hall is one of the dining rooms, 60 feet by 60, and on the Regent Street level is another dining room 40 feet by 40, with a large banquetting - room on the floor above, etc.

In 1860 alterations and additions were made to the Restaurant attached to the Concert Rooms, at a further outlay of 5000. The Company was eventually enabled to pay these charges, through the un covenanted liberality of some of the directors, in accepting personal responsibility to mortgagees and bankers, while they dimi- nished the debt annually through the receipts of the Hall. Many concerts were given for the express purpose of engaging the Hall on off- nights, especially the Monday Popular Concerts, which have now become an institution, but were originally started by Chappell & Co. to bring together a new public to fill the Hall on Monday nights. In 1874 three more houses in Piccadilly were purchased to add to the Restaurant. The rebuilding of these entailed a further expenditure of 45,000, so that the total cost has exceeded 1 20,000. Mr. George Leslie has been Secretary to the Company from its first institution, and so continues. [W.C.]

SAINT-SAENS, CHARLES CAMILLE, born Oct. 9, 1835, in the Rue du Jardinet (now No. 3) Paris. Having lost his father, he was brought up by his mother and a great-aunt, whom he called 'bonne maman. 1 She taught him the elements of music, and to this day the com- poser keeps the little old-fashioned instrument on which this dearly-loved relative gave him "his first lessons. At seven he began to study the piano with Stamaty, and afterwards had lessons in harmony from Maleden. Gifted with an excellent ear and a prodigious memory, he showed from childhood a marvellous aptitude for music, and an unusual thirst for knowledge.

��SAINT-SAENS.

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��In 1847 he entered Benoist's class at the Conserva- toire (the only one he attended) and obtained the second organ- prize in 1849, an( l the first in 1851 He left in the following year, but competed for the Prix de Rome, which was however won by Le'once Cohen, his senior by six years. He was not more fortunate at a second trial in 1864, although by that time he had made a name in more than one branch of composition. These academic failures are therefore of no real importance, and we merely mention them because it is remarkable that the most learned of French contemporary musicians should have gained every possible dis- tinction except the Grand Prix de Rome.

Saint-Saens was only sixteen when he com- posed his first symphony, which was performed with success by the Socie*t de Sainte Ce*cile. In 1853 he became organist of the church of St. Merri, and shortly after accepted the post of pianoforte professor at Niedermeyer's Ecole re- ligieuse. Though overwhelmed with work he found time for composing symphonies, chamber- music, and vocal and instrumental pieces and for playing at concerts, where he became known as an interpreter of classical music. In 1858 he became organist of the Madeleine, and dis- tinguished himself as much by his talent for improvisation as by his execution. He only resigned this coveted post in 1877, when he was much gratified by the appointment of Theodore Dubois, a solid musician, worthy in every respect to be his successor.

The stage in Paris being the sole road to fame and fortune, all French musicians naturally aim at dramatic composition. Saint-Saens was no exception to this rule. He was in the first rank of pianists and organists, and his cantata ' Les Noces de Prome'the'e' had been awarded the prize by the International Exhibition of 1867, and performed with great e*clat, but these suc- cesses could not content him, and he produced 'La Princesse jaune,' I act, at the Opdra Com- ique, June la, 1872, and 'Le Timbre d'argent,' a fantastic opera in 4 acts, at the Theatre Lyrique Feb. 23, 1877. Both operas were comparative failures ; and, doubtless discouraged by so harsh a judgment from the Parisian public, he produced his next work, ' Samson et Dalila,' a sacred drama (Dec. 1877), at Weimar, and 'Etienne Marcel/ opera in 4 acts (Feb. 8, 1879), a * Lyons.

Whether as a performer or a conductor, M. Saint-Saens likes a large audience, and this desire has led him to become an extensive traveller. He has been in Russia, Spain, and Portugal, besides paying repeated visits to Ger- many, Austria, and England, so that he may be truly said to have acquired a European reputation. His fame mainly rests on his instru- mental music, and on his masterly and effective manner of dealing with the orchestra. He is an excellent contrapuntist, shines in the construction of his orchestral pieces, has a quick ear for picturesqueness of detail, and has written enough fine music to procure him an honourable position among French composers. He lias very great power of combination, and of seizing instanta-

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