Camille Saint-Saëns was a 19th century French composer, organist, conductor and pianist. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, the 2nd Piano Concerto, the 1st Cello Concerto, Danse Macabre, the opera Samson and Delilah, the 3rd Violin Concerto, the 3rd ("Organ") Symphony and The Carnival of the Animals.
Saint-Saëns, a musical prodigy, made his concert debut at the age of ten. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire he followed a conventional career as a church organist, eventually becoming organist at La Madeleine, the official church of the French Empire. After leaving the post twenty years later, he was a successful freelance pianist and composer, in demand in Europe and the Americas.
As a young composer, Saint-Saëns was enthusiastic for the most modern music of the day, even though his own compositions were fairly traditional. Neoclassical elements in his music, foreshadowing works by Stravinsky and Les Six, saw him as a reactionary in the decades around the time of his death.
His students included Gabriel Fauré, among whose own later pupils was Maurice Ravel. Both were strongly influenced by Saint-Saëns.
The immensely popular Symphony No. 3 in C minor was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 and is probably the most well-known piece for the combination of organ and orchestra. Two of the four sections use the pipe organ. Represented here is the final section, the Maestoso, which is what really defines the work as the "Organ Symphony".