Hymne à l’eté: Florent Schmitt’s deliriously ecstatic a cappella choral composition for eight-part mixed choir and soloists (1913).

Vocal music comprises an important component of Florent Schmitt’s catalogue of works.  Throughout his long career the composer would return again and again to the human voice, creating many sets of songs along with a wide range of secular and sacred choral music. One of the most intriguing of these works is the a cappella […]

Stretching tonality to the breaking point: Florent Schmitt’s weird and daring Kérob-Shal (1919-24).

Even before the onset of World War I, Florent Schmitt was already known as a pathfinding composer.  Indeed, such works as Psaume XLVII (1904), La Tragédie de Salomé (1907) and the Piano Quintet (1908) had already cemented his reputation as one of the most influential voices among his generation of French composers. But it was during […]

“White-haired, bearded and thoroughly charming”: American contralto Rita Sebastian’s remembrances of performing with Florent Schmitt at Town Hall in New York City (1932).

One of the serendipitous aspects of music history is coming across rare and precious documents that have remained hidden for decades.  Such an occurrence happened this past summer when JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, received a package in the mail containing a collection of documents pertaining to a recital given by […]

Florent Schmitt’s Quatre lieds (1912): Dark colors and wistful sonorities depicting cryptic, fathomless poetry.

Throughout his lengthy career as a composer, Florent Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice when creating his compositions.  Although Schmitt distanced himself from operatic projects (he created no operas of his own although he  prepared piano-reduction scores of several of Frederick Delius’ operatic scores), Schmitt lavished attention on sorts of other […]

Discovering the man behind the musician: The personal remembrances of French composer Florent Schmitt’s biographer, Yves Hucher (1958).

When the composer Florent Schmitt died in August 1958 at the age of nearly 88 years, many prominent musicians, scholars and journalists wrote words of tribute honoring the last of the “grand generation” of French composers that had included, among others, Debussy, Dukas, Ravel, Roussel, Koechlin, Pierné, Cras, Rabaud, Ropartz and Tournemire. Along those lines, […]

Conductor Fabien Gabel talks about the strategy behind his October 2021 “Salome-centric” concert with the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse.

Recently, French conductor Fabien Gabel returned to the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse to lead a concert of music by composers from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The choice of repertoire was interesting in that it had a distinctly “Salome-centric” cast — featuring the music of Florent Schmitt and Richard Strauss.  But the […]

Quatre pièces (1901): Florent Schmitt’s early suite for violin and piano.

Like many composers who came of age during the late 1800s, French composer Florent Schmitt’s formative years were influenced by the prevailing musical currents of the day. In the case of Schmitt, Schumann was an early influence, as was Wagner. But by the time Schmitt entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1888, other influences were making […]

Pianist and musicologist Frank Cooper talks about discovering Florent Schmitt’s Trois rapsodies (1903-4) and preparing a pioneering recital performance of the piece with Martin Marks in 1967.

Among the most impressive music channels on YouTube are two that are run by Helen Moritz, who has uploaded a wealth of rare piano performances from yesteryear. Ms. Moritz has painstakingly searched for audio recordings of recitals given by some of classical music’s greatest pianists.  Among the artists are Jorge Bolet, Mieszyslaw Horszowski, Raymond Lewenthal, […]

Members of the Kebyart Ensemble talk about Florent Schmitt’s Quartet for Saxophones (1941) and its preeminent position in the saxophone repertoire.

The piece will serve as the centerpiece of Kebyart’s ECHO Rising Stars concert programs being presented in 13 European countries between September 2021 and May 2022. Formed in 2014, the Kebyart Ensemble is one of Europe’s most promising saxophone quartets. The group is making a name for itself on concert stages throughout Europe, and also […]

Chant du soir (1895): An early composition by Florent Schmitt comes into its own — 125 years after its creation.

Up until recently, familiarity with the earliest compositions of Florent Schmitt was rather scant.  The composer’s first works were created in the decade leading up to his winning the Prix de Rome first prize for composition in 1900. It was the period after Schmitt had completed his music studies at the conservatory in Nancy and […]

Håkan Hardenberger and Fabien Gabel talk about making their new orchestral recording featuring twentieth century French trumpet concertante works, including Florent Schmitt’s Suite en trois parties (1955).

In August 2021, the renowned trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger joined with conductor Fabien Gabel in Stockholm to make a recording of several gleaming jewels of twentieth century French trumpet concertante music. Together with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Hardenberger and Gabel have recorded a program that includes: Henri Tomasi: Trumpet Concerto (original version – 1948) […]

Pianist Biljana Urban talks about her new recording featuring world premiere renditions of works by Florent Schmitt.

Five premiere recordings are part of the new collection devoted to the solo piano music of the composer, scheduled for release in October 2021 on NAXOS’s Grand Piano label. Over his long career, French composer Florent Schmitt created many piano compositions — a body of work spanning more than a half-century from the early 1890s […]

Scènes de la vie moyenne (1950): Florent Schmitt’s late-career work for orchestra.

During the latter years of Florent Schmitt’s long and illustrious career, the composer turned his creative talents increasingly toward music for scored small instrumental forces.  Among the notable achievements of this late creative period are the fascinating (and challenging) String Trio (1944) and String Quartet (1948), as well as a group of compositions that showcase […]

Something borrowed, something new: Exploring the recurring musical themes and passages in Florent Schmitt’s catalogue of works.

It isn’t uncommon for classical composers to create alternate versions of their musical creations.  Many have prepared piano reductions of their orchestral works, or done the opposite by orchestrating pieces originally written for piano. We also have numerous examples of pieces that began life as chamber music that were later orchestrated by their creators; the […]

Black and white … or shades of grey?

Considering the actions and motivations of Florent Schmitt during the 1930s and World War II. Regular readers of the Florent Schmitt Website + Blog know that the primary focus of the site’s content is on the composer’s remarkable musical legacy.  For a person whose creative career spanned more than seven decades during the time of […]