Artists can be inspired by almost anything. In the case of Camille Saint-Saens, for instance, I’ve heard that he wrote his piece Danse Macabre solely to feature the xylophone, which had never been used in a symphonic work before. That may or may not be true, but it’s still a story that I like. It’s my second favorite story about Saint-Saens. The first is that he attended the first performance of Stravinsky‘s Sacre du Printemps and sat through the entire thing repeating, “He’s insane…he’s insane.” The word xylophone comes from the Greek words xylo, which means “tree”, and “phone”, which means “voice”. I always thought The Lorax was the voice of the trees–but that’s another story.
Saint-Saens apparently liked the xylophone so much it also plays a part–no pun intended–in his Le Carnival de Animaux.
I realize this is more appropriate for Halloween, but, hey, with the holidays approaching, any dance–even a macabre one–is a way to celebrate.
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