Carnival of the Animals

By | October 6, 2023

Exploring the Fun and Playful World of Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals - Swans


Now, have you ever wondered what music might sound like if it could talk to animals? Well, you’re in for a treat! In 1886, French composer
Camille Saint-Saëns created a delightful musical piece called Le Carnaval des Animaux or Carnival of the Animals. It’s like a musical zoo where each animal has its own special song.

Let’s take a closer look at this whimsical and entertaining masterpiece.

The Secret Concert

Private Start: Believe it or not, Camille Saint-Saëns didn’t want the world to hear this music at first. He wrote it just for fun, and the very first performance was like a private party with friends on Shrove Tuesday (a French holiday).

Music Hidden Away: Saint-Saëns had a strange rule: He said, “Don’t let this music out for the public until after I’m gone!” But he allowed one little piece to escape – more on that later.

Meet the Animals

Animal Parade: “Carnival of the Animals” has fourteen parts, and each one is about a different animal. It’s like a musical parade of creatures! Here are the different pieces with links to the sheet music:

  1. Introduction
  2. Marche Royal du Lion: The Royal March of the Lion
  3. Poules et Coqs: Hens and Roosters
  4. Hémiones: Wild Asses
  5. Tortues: Tortoises
  6. L’Eléphant: The Elephant
  7. Kangourous: Kangaroos
  8. Aquarium: Aquarium
  9. Personnages à longues oreilles: Characters with Long Ears
  10. Coucou au Fond du Bois: The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods
  11. Volière: Aviary
  12. Pianistes: Pianists
  13. Fossiles: Fossils
  14. Le Cygne: The Swan
  15. Finale: Finale

All in Good Fun

Lots of Laughs: Saint-Saëns had a great time making fun of animals and even people! So the best part of this music is its sense of humor.

The Joking Pianists: There’s a part that teases piano players, showing them practicing scales over and over again. It’s all in good fun.

The Swan

A Graceful Swan: One part of the music, “The Swan,” is very famous. It’s like a beautiful swan gliding on a pond. A cello plays the main melody, and it’s simply lovely.

A Special Piece: “The Swan” is so special that it’s often played all by itself, even though the composer originally wanted to keep the whole “Carnival of the Animals” a secret!

A Late Discovery

Finally Shared: After Saint-Saëns passed away, people discovered his musical secret, and they started performing it for everyone to hear.

Popular Today: Today, “Carnival of the Animals” is super popular, especially among children. It’s a fun way to learn about music and animals at the same time.


So, there you have it – a peek into the whimsical and playful world of “Carnival of the Animals.” It’s a musical adventure where animals come to life through music, and you’re invited to join the carnival of sounds and laughter. Whether you’re a music lover or just curious about the animal kingdom, this musical treasure by Camille Saint-Saëns is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Read more about Saint-Saëns on our post or at ClassicfM

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