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About this Piece

In stark contrast to the knotty textures and continuous development style of pieces such as August Gottfried Ritter's Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 19, Camille Saint-Saëns emphasized great simplicity and clarity in overall musical forms and melodies. Occasionally, such as in his Danse macabre, his refined compositional style resulted in a particularly catchy and popular piece.

Depicting a demonic nocturnal dance as portrayed in a short song by Henri Cazalis, the music presents two overlapping melodies, one representing the devil playing on his violin and the other the terpsichorean folly of his gulled mortal souls. A singing nightingale appears at the end. English pedagogue Edwin Lemare (1866-1934) transcribed the original orchestral score to create this instructive and engaging version for pipe organ.

— Gregg Wager is a composer and critic. He is author of Symbolism as a Compositional Method in the Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has a PhD in musicology from the Free University Berlin and a JD from McGeorge School of Law.