Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Phaëton. Op. 35 - Saint-Saëns
Phaëton. Op. 35
The symphonic poem of "Phaëton" has for its story the legend of the unfortunate amateur charioteer of the sun, who, having obtained permission to drive the fiery steeds, approaches so near the earth that it is only saved from destruction by Jupiter, who interposes with a timely thunderbolt, and hurls the reckless driver into the outer limbo. It begins with a bright, pleasant melody, the driver evidently contemplating an agreeable journey. Soon another theme comes in; the chariot is taking an upward flight. Anon he loses his course, and the first theme appears with significant chromatic changes. His indecision, fear, and despair are clearly indicated in the uncertain, abrupt and wandering character of the music. At last Jupiter settles matters with an outburst of trumpets; and the poem closes with the second theme in dirge form, singing a lament for the unfortunate victim of over-curiosity and confidence.