Saint-Saëns defending virtuosity

It is virtuosity itself that I want to defend. It is the source of the picturesque in music, it gives the artist wings with whose help he escapes platitudes and the everyday. The conquered difficulty is in itself a beautiful thing. Theódphile Gautier, in Émaux et camées, considered this issue in immortal verses. . . . Virtuosity triumphs in all the arts. . . . On the matter of the concerto, this supposedly inferior genre is superior in that it permits the performer to manifest his personality, an invaluable thing when this personality is interesting.

Camille Saint-Saëns, 1904.

First published by Fernand Baldensperger in “UneConsultation de Saint-Saëns sur le concerto,”
Ménestrel, 6 July 1934, 255. Cited in: D. Gooley, “Saint-Saëns and the Performer’s Prestige,”, accessed 2 May 2023.




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