A child prodigy, Saint-Saens made his public debut as a pianist at the age of eleven. He studied composition and the organ at the Paris Conservatoire and produced his First Symphony in 1855. In 1857, he became the organist at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris and continued in this position for 20 years, while he composed and held other posts. He was appointed professor of piano at Ecole Niedermeyer in 1861. Saint-Saens was also the first Frenchman to write symphonic poems, among which were his Danse Macabre and Le Rouet d'Omphale. Saint-Saens was a prolific composer and also wrote musical criticism, poetry, essays and plays. Among his best known works are the opera Samson et Dalila (1877), the Third Symphony (1886), Carnaval des Animaux (Carnival of the Animals) (1886), the Fifth Piano Concerto (1895) and his Second Cello Concerto (1902).