Carnival of the Animals: Hens and Roosters & The Elephant for flute ensemble


The bass flute has a unique challenge as Saint-Saens’ (1835-1921) heavy-sounding elephant as well as the all-reigning rooster among the chattering of the hens.

Thematic material for “The Elephant” is taken from Mendelssohn’s “Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Belioz’s “Dance of the Silphs.” The joke is that both themes were originally written for high instruments, but Saint-Saens moved them to the lowest instruments.

The “Hens and Roosters” movement is centered around a staccato theme quite reminiscent of chickens pecking at grain. The rooster is marching silently along the rows of hens who nervously run around him, ending their chatters with a fortissimo last shout!


“Hens and Roosters” performed by the Quintessenz ensemble.

“The Elephant” performed by the Quintessenz ensemble.