Saint-Saëns Across Borders (3 – 5 February 2022)

The RNCM, in collaboration with the Royal Musical Association, Cardiff University, the British Library and the Royal Philharmonic Society, is organising the conference, Saint-Saëns Across Borders, on 3-5 February 2022 to mark the centenary of the death of the composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

Working in partnership with the Société Camille Saint-Saëns in Paris, it is one of three conferences in Europe to explore aspects of Saint-Saëns’s musical legacy. The programme committee consists of prominent French music experts based in the UK, France and the USA: Barbara Kelly (RNCM), Clair Rowden (Cardiff University), Denis Herlin (IReMus, RNCM), Marie-Gabrielle Soret (BnF), Jann Pasler (UCSD) and William Gibbons (Texas Christian University).

The focus of the Manchester conference is on the composer’s activities and connections outside France.  Saint-Saëns regularly went on tour and spent a lot of time in North Africa, where he died.  He was also a regular visitor to Britain, receiving notable commissions (including for the famous Organ Symphony from the Royal Philharmonic Society), performances and publications.  His British network included royalty, politicians as well as leading musicians. Drawing on new archival materials from the Saint-Saëns archive in Dieppe and other locations around Britain, the conference will enable us to make a valuable contribution to research on this understudied aspect of Saint-Saëns’s career.

We have had a had a fantastic response to an open call for papers from colleagues from across the world.  The conference will address the following themes: Saint-Saëns’ career, tours and the reception of his music in Britain, North America, South America, in colonial Algeria and in other parts of Europe and a consideration of the composer across disciplinary borders.  The keynote lecture will be delivered by Michael Stegemann (Technische Universität Dortmund).

Presentations will take the form of papers, lecture recitals, concerts and masterclasses. We are delighted to be joined by eminent performer-scholars, including Geoffrey Burleson (Princeton, CUNY, Hunter, NY), Roy Howat (Royal Academy of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and Peter Sheppard-Skaerved (Royal Academy of Music and RNCM). There will be an orchestral concert, vocal and piano recitals by students of the RNCM.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Royal Musical Association, Music and Letters Trust and the Royal Northern College of Music.


Thursday 3 February 2022



Watch papers for Sessions 1 and 2

(or watch in own time if more convenient)




Barbara Kelly (RNCM), Denis Herlin (CNRS, RNCM) and Clair Rowden (Cardiff University)

Paper Session 1: La Princesse jaune

Chair: Clair Rowden (Cardiff University)

Mitsaya Nakanishi (Japan)
Saint-Saëns et des Expos Japonais à Londres

Giuseppe Montemagno (Accademia di Belle Arti di Catania)
‘Je faisais un rêve insensé’, La Princesse jaune, Djamileh et l’orientalisme à l’Opéra-Comique

Zélie Jouenne (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin Institut für Musik und Musikwissenschaft TU Dortmund)
La Princesse Jaune de Camille Saint‐Saëns : Reflet du Japonisme en France



Paper session 2: Saint-Saëns Sources

Chair: Denis Herlin (RNCM)

Marie-Gabrielle Soret (BnF, Paris)
Saint-Saëns sources in perspective

Pierre Ickowicz (Musée de Dieppe)
The Musée CSS in Dieppe, a worldwide life in memories



RNCM Lunchtime Concert (livestreamed)



Lecture Recitals 1 and 2

Chair: Adam Swayne (RNCM)

14.10 – 14.55: Geoffrey Burleson (Princeton, Hunter College, CUNY)
‘Camille Saint-Saëns in Egypt and Algeria:  Distilling Color and Theme in the Africa Fantasy’

14.55 – 15.40: Roy Howat (RAM, RCS) and Peter Skærved Sheppard (RAM)
Saint-Saëns in San Francisco



Afternoon tea/coffee



Watch papers for Session 3

(or watch in own time if more convenient)


17 .15

Paper Session 3: Ethology

Chair: Caroline Rae

Damjan Rakonjac (UCLA)
The Patron Saint of French Heritage Cinema, or Camille in Indochine

Jann Pasler (University of California, San Diego)
Reading against the grain in colonial Algeria: Camille Saint-Saëns and Mahieddine Bachtarzi in dialogue



Roundtable: Saint-Saëns in Britain

Barbara Kelly (Chair, RNCM), Clair Rowden (University of Cardiff), Geoff Thomason (RNCM), David Horne (RNCM)


Watch papers for Session 4

(or watch in own time if more convenient)

Friday 4 February 2022



Watch papers for Sessions 5 and 6

(or watch in own time if more convenient)



Morning tea/coffee



Lecture Recital 3

Chair: Maria Stratigou (RNCM)

Kelsey K Rogers and Brent Rogers
Saint-Saëns’ Melodies



Paper Session 4: Reception

Chair: Emma Kavanagh

Nicholas Attfield (University of Birmingham)
‘Sobriety – but in a good sense’: Saint-Saëns, Jacques Handschin, and the New Music of the 1930s

Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester)
Cosmopolitan Classicism in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Chamber Music

Megan Sarno (University of Texas at Arlington)
Saint-Saëns’s ‘L’art pour l’art’ as ‘Art for All’



Paper Session 5: Texts and Genres

Chair: Claire Rowden

Brent Rogers (Dickinson State University)
Le Feu celeste Op 115

Peter Lamothe (Belmont University, USA)
Saint-Saëns’s Unexpected Prologue for Gabriel Fauré’s Prométhée

Christina M Stahl (Technische Universität Dortmund)
By the Rivers of Babylon’, Un motet anglais inconnu de Saint-Saëns



Afternoon tea/coffee



Session 6: The Americas

Chair: Sylvia Kahan

Marcelo Campos Hazan (University of South Carolina) Saint-Saëns in Rio de Janeiro, 1899

Fernanda Munoz-Salazar (University of Southampton)
Fighting Wagnerism: Melesio Morales’s translation of Saint-Saëns’ Introduction of Harmony et Mélodie

David Cranmer (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Reception in Brazil

Sabina Teller Ratner (Université de Montréal)
Saint-Saëns in America



Live Keynote

16.05: Linda Merrick (Principal, RNCM)

16.15 – 17.30: Michael Stegemann (Technische Universität Dortmund)
Looking for Saint-Saëns – In Search of a Lost Modernist



Live Pre-concert Panel: Saint-Saëns today (Royal Philharmonic Society)

James Murphy (RPS), Anna Lapwood, David Horne (RNCM) and Leanne Langley (RPS)



RNCM Concert

Saturday 5 February 2022



Piano Masterclass with Geoffrey Burleson (Princeton, Hunter College, CUNY)

With students from the RNCM and Junior RNCM