Saint-Saens – Concert Op.33 N1 for cello and piano

Saint-Saens – Concert Op.33 N1 for cello and piano. You can download the PDF sheet music Saint-Saens – Concert a-moll Op.33 N1 for cello and piano on this page. Camille Saint-Saëns composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 in 1872, when the composer was 37 years old. He wrote this work for the Belgian cellist, viola de gamba player and instrument maker Auguste Tolbecque. Tolbecque was part of a distinguished family of musicians closely associated with the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, France’s leading concert society. The concerto was first performed on January 19, 1873 at the Paris conservatoire concert with Tolbecque as soloist. This was considered a mark of Saint-Saëns' growing acceptance by the French musical establishment.
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PDF format sheet music

Cello part: 11 pages. 489 K

Piano part: 32 pages. 912 K

Instrument part - First page Piano part - First page

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Saint-Saëns broke with convention in writing the concerto. Instead of using the normal three-movement concerto form, he structured the piece in one continuous movement. This single movement contains three distinct sections. Those sections, tightly-structured, share interrelated ideas. Saint-Saëns' contact with Franz Liszt while serving as organist at the Église de la Madeleine may have led him to use cyclic form in his orchestral works.

The work can be split into three different sections as follows:
  • Allegro non troppo
  • Allegretto con moto
  • Tempo primo
Saint-Saëns very often uses the solo cello here as a declamatory instrument. This keeps the soloist in the dramatic and musical foreground, the orchestra offering a shimmering backdrop. The music is tremendously demanding for soloists, especially in the fast third section. This difficulty has not stopped the concerto from becoming a favourite of the great virtuoso cellists.

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