|Birth||14 November, 1840|
|Death||5 December, 1926|
|Music||Camille Saint-Saëns (9 October 1835 -- 16 December 1921) - Piano Concerto in Gm|
Monet was a pure impressionist, a real master of the style, entirely focusing his attention on the colours and light effects of the landscapes that he used to paint en plain air.
He was a very prolific artist, who went on painting until the age of 86. During these years, he always remained loyal to the impressionism's guidelines, even when the movement started to decline in its popularity.
It's quite hard to explain, using only words, how important light was for Monet, but you can check the "quote from the artist" section below to have an idea. It's also important to underline Monet's urgent need to work outdoors only, as that was the only way to paint the direct and pure impressions from a natural landscape.
Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. To such an extent indeed that one day, finding myself at the deathbed of a woman who had been and still was very dear to me, I caught myself in the act of focusing on her temples and automatically analyzing the succession of appropriately graded colors which death was imposing on her motionless face.
I see less and less....I need to avoid lateral light, which darkens my colors. Nevertheless, I always paint at the times of day most propitious for me, as long as my paint tubes and brushes are not mixed up....I will paint almost blind, as Beethoven composed completely deaf.
I can no longer work outside because of the intensity of the light.
A few words about the music
For the greatest French master of Impressionism, we have chosen one of the greatest French masters of Romantic music.
Saint-Saens was born 5 years before Monet, in 1835, and is mostly known for his "Carnival of the Animals", a musical suite made of 14 movements, each dedicated to one animal.
His Piano Concerto n.2 in Gm, featured in the video of Monet, was dedicated to Madame A. de Villers née de Haber. At the première, the composer was the soloist and Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra. Saint-Saëns wrote the concerto in three weeks, and had very little time to prepare for the première; consequently, the piece was not initially successful.
It is made of 3 different movements, and here you can listen to the 1st one, beginning with an improvised piano solo introduction in the style of a Bach fantasia. After the orchestra enters, the restless and melancholy first theme is played, again by the piano solo. Saint-Saëns drew the theme from his student Gabriel Fauré's abandoned Tantum ergo motet. A brief second theme appears, followed by a middle section of increasing degrees of animato. The main theme is recapitulated fortissimo and the soloist is given a long ad libitum cadenza. The Bach-like opening motif returns in the coda.