Such fun! My summer students performed Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals yesterday evening, to the delight of all in attendance. We had been working on it all summer. Each of my students had a part, even the adults! What a coup! This was a first for me, children and adult students playing for each other. I was so pleased with everyone's performance, from the Royal Lions to the Swans, from the Characters with Long Ears to the Fossils, the Elephants and the salmon-pink Japanese Angel Fish. The Swan was played especially well, truly evoking a swan gliding on a pond in the silver moonlight, and brought a tear to my eye.
Originally scored for two pianos, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute (and piccolo), clarinet C and B♭), glass harmonica, and xylophone, Saint-Saens wrote the orchestral version in 1886, as a joke really. He was deeply immersed in his Symphony #3 and needed a diversion. He allowed only one performance in March 1886. It was not until after he died that the manuscript was rediscovered, and it has been a favorite of concert-goers ever since!
Hans-Gunter Heumann composed our piano arrangement, and Vicco von Bulow (better known as LORIOT) provided the narrative. One note from the score, "In the opinion of Saint-Saens, pianists are a strange, almost animal-like species, playing endless, boring scales with the utmost seriousness." The beginning student assigned this role was unable to attend, so I took that part. I think my students were impressed by the utmost seriousness with which I executed those scales!