10 Interesting Facts about the Carnival of the Animals:
1. While procrastinating on his Third Symphony, Saint-Saëns wrote the humorous Carnival of the Animals in just a few weeks.
2. Saint-Saëns was adamant that the work not be published in his lifetime, seeing it as detracting from his "serious" composer image.
3. The movement Hens and Roosters includes a theme based on Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!
4. Swift Asses is a musical reference to dziggetai, asses that come from Tibet and are known for their great speed.
5. The Tortoises movement includes a slow, drooping rendition of the famous Can-can (“Galop infernal” from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.)
7. Music critics have speculated that the movement Characters with Long Ears is meant to compare music critics to braying donkeys.
8. Apparently Pianists are animals too. This movement is a glimpse into what few audiences ever get to see: pianists practicing their scales. In this case, the scales of C, D♭, D and E♭.
9. According to Leonard Bernstein, the musical pieces quoted in Fossils are the fossils of Saint-Saëns's time, including his own Danse Macabre, the aria Una voce poco fa from Rossini's The Barber of Seville, and Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).
10. In 1949, American poet Ogden Nash wrote a set of humorous verses to accompany each movement (which will be recited by S.C. Shakespeare’s Mike Ryan at our concert.)