Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music



First Advisor

Larry Wyatt


Described as the French Mendelssohn, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was acclaimed as the epitome of French genius. He played a unique role in transforming French musical taste from grand opera to the classical symphony and led the charge as the first composer to blend resources of French folk song and music from the Arab world into the classical tradition. However, many of Saint-Saëns’s choral works have been lost in obscurity. One such composition has emerged, the Messe de Requiem. The Messe de Requiem represents Saint-Saëns’s deep integrity and commitment to composition through traditional form and style. This study evaluates the composer’s struggle to maintain his convictions in an evolving French musical culture that challenged the traditions of form that Saint-Saëns so revered. Also, this study analyzes the Messe de Requiem to demonstrate the composer’s ability to maintain traditional form and yet experiment with contemporary musical stylings to appeal to an ever-changing French audience. Lastly, and more importantly, this document reviews and guides the conductor through the challenges of conducting the Messe de Requiem, in respect to harmonic language, dynamic contrast, language considerations, and unique orchestral requirements.


© 2018, Thomas R. Matrone

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