Dear friend
Often times composers write with specific audiences in mind. This holds true even when composing works for children; a balance is to be achieved between  appropriateness for the audience and appropriateness for the reputation of the composer’s work. 

Our choice today is a Saint-Saens’ Carnival the Animals. Written at a demanding time while working on his Third Symphony, Saint-Saens composed it for Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) as a  suite for  2 pianos and chamber ensemble, apparently intended for his students.  It was first performed in private Salons in 1886, not to receive public release until after his death, per his instructions. Its sophistication and whimsy have made it an immediate success, and it continues to be a beloved masterpiece. “When he likes to joke, the master never forgets that he is the master.” [Anton Banes, Le Figaro, 1922]

Part of Dranoff’s mission is to provide a marketplace for artists to perform, and for young people to be engaged creatively with music. Carnival of the Animals is one of the treasures that meets both the rigors of brilliant musicianship and the delight of young minds discovering the world of classical music. And it amuses those of us who cherish the virtuosity of the Third Symphony. A masterful carnival.


Gabriele Fiorentino 
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation
Piano Slam


Performed by Jing'er Xu and Hanqian Zhu

Photo by Geri Dagys

Camille Saint-Saëns
Was wracked with pains,
When people addressed him,
As Saint Sanes.
He held the human race to blame,
Because it could not pronounce his name.
So, he turned with metronome and fife,
To glorify other kinds of life.
Be quiet please - for here begins
His salute to feathers, fur, and fins.

Royal March of the Lion
The lion is the king of beasts,
And husband of the lioness.
Gazelles and things on which he feasts
Address him as your highoness.
There are those that admire that roar of his,
In the African jungles and velds,
But, I think that wherever the lion is,
I'd rather be somewhere else.

Hens and Roosters
The rooster is a roistering hoodlum,
His battle cry is "cock-a-doodleum".
Hands in pockets, cap over eye,
He whistles at pullets, passing by.

Wild Asses
Have ever you harked to the jackass wild,
Which scientists call the onager?
It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child,
Or a hepcat on a harmoniger.
But do not sneer at the jackass wild,
There is a method in his heehaw.
For with maidenly blush and accent mild
The jenny-ass answers shee-haw.

Come crown my brow with leaves of myrtle,
I know the tortoise is a turtle,
Come carve my name in stone immortal,
I know the turtoise is a tortle.
I know to my profound despair,
I bet on one to beat a hare.
I also know I'm now a pauper,
Because of its tortley, turtley, torper.

The Elephant
Elephants are useful friends,
Equipped with handles at both ends.
They have a wrinkled moth-proof hide.
Their teeth are upside down, outside.
If you think the elephant preposterous,
You've probably never seen a rhinosterous.

The kangaroo can jump incredible,
He has to jump because he is edible.
I could not eat a kangaroo,
But many fine Australians do.
Those with cookbooks as well as boomerangs,
Prefer him in tasty kangaroomeringues.

Some fish are minnows,
Some are whales.
People like dimples,
Fish like scales,
Some fish are slim,
And some are round,
They don't get cold,
They don't get drowned.
But every fishwife
Fears for her fish.
What we call mermaids
They call merfish.

People With Long Ears
In the world of mules
There are no rules.

The Cuckoo in the Middle of the Wood
Cuckoos lead bohemian lives,
They fail as husbands and as wives,
Therefore, they cynically dispariage
Everybody else's marriage.

Puccini was Latin, and Wagner Teutonic,
And birds are incurably philharmonic,
Suburban yards and rural vistas
Are filled with avian Andrew Sisters.
The skylark sings a roundelay,
The crow sings "The Road to Mandalay,"
The nightingale sings a lullaby,
And the sea gull sings a gullaby.
That's what shepherds listened to in Arcadia
Before somebody invented the radia.

Some claim that pianists are human,
And quote the case of Mr Truman.
Saint Saëns, upon the other hand,
Considered them a scurvy band.
A blight they are, he said, and simian,
Instead of normal men and womian.

At midnight in the museum hall,
The fossils gathered for a ball.
There were no drums or saxophones,
But just the clatter of their bones,
A rolling, rattling carefree circus,
Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas.
Pterodactyls and brontosauruses
Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses.
Amid the mastodonic wassail
I caught the eye of one small fossil,
"Cheer up sad world," he said and winked,
"It's kind of fun to be extinct."

The Swan
The swan can swim while sitting down,
For pure conceit he takes the crown,
He looks in the mirror over and over,
And claims to have never heard of Pavlova.

Now we've reached the grand finale,
Animale carnivale.
Noises new to sea and land,
Issue from the skillful band.
All the strings contort their features,
Imitating crawly creatures.
All the brasses look like mumps
From blowing umpah, umpah, umps.
In outdoing Barnum and Bailey, and Ringling,
Saint-Saëns has done a miraculous thingling.

Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation | Website |||| PIANO SLAM | Website