La Tragédie de Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s Sinuous Temptress, Seducing Audiences for 100 Years

“[It] is like a half-hour visit to the pleasure dome in Xanadu, and if it doesn’t give you a few spiritual orgasms, then perhaps you need to insert Viagra® in each of your ears.”

— Raymond Tuttle, Music Critic, Fanfare Magazine

Costume designs for the 1913 Ballets Russes production of La Tragedie de Salome, designed by Serge Soudeikine.

Costume designs for the 1913 Ballets Russes production of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé, created by Serge Soudeikine.

The ballet La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 is Florent Schmitt’s most famous and oft-recorded composition — and it isn’t hard to figure out why.

Loie Fuller Lamp

All the rage: A Loïe Fuller lamp, created and sold at about the time of Fuller’s 1907 premiere of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé in Paris.

Salomé represents the very best in the French tradition of evocative music on exotic subjects … but in this case, we have a hefty dose of the “epic” and “barbaric” to go along with the Impressionistic and “orientalist” touches.

Composed in 1907 for chamber-size orchestra, the ballet started out nearly one hour long.  Its first performance was at the Théâtre des Arts (now the Théâtre Hébertot) in a production that featured Loïe Fuller, the American-born dancer and choreographer who was famous for her scarves and lighting effects.

Tragedie de Salome 1907 Program Cover

The program cover for the original production of La Tragédie de Salomé, presented at the Théâtre des Arts.

Several years later, Schmitt revisited the score, condensing it to about one-half its original length while substantially augmenting the orchestration and adding optional female voices. The resulting score, premiered in 1911 as an orchestral suite and featuring composer-conductor Gabriel Pierné directing the Colonne Concerts Orchestra, was a sonic spectacular.

Florent Schmitt with Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky (l.), photographed with Florent Schmitt about the time of the composition of Salomé. Schmitt dedicated the score to him.

Schmitt dedicated his composition to Igor Stravinsky, who is said to have been influenced by the jagged rhythms and barbarism in certain parts of the score.

The French conductor Stéphane Denève, speaking to the audience before a 2011 concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra where he performed the Schmitt piece, declared:

“Without La Tragédie de Salomé, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring would not have been the same!”

The ballet score illustrates the pioneering aspects of Schmitt’s writing.  According to research conducted by music notation specialist Dr. Donald Byrd at Indiana University, the 1907 Salomé represents the earliest appearance of a non-integer time signature numerator — (3-1/2)/4 — in published music, pre-dating the usage of similar treatments by Charles Ives, Edgar Varèse and others.

Of Schmitt’s score — and the fevered story line as dramatized by the French writer and stage director Robert d’Humières — author and composer Edward Burlingame Hill wrote this in his classic 1924 book Modern French Music:

Robert d'Humieres

A noteworthy stage and literary career cut short by the First World War: Robert d’Humières (1868-1915).

“Florent Schmitt has depicted this lurid scenario in music of unexampled vividness — of exotic imagination. 

“His gifts for construction, contrapuntal mastery and appropriate harmonic luxuriance have fired his inventive powers to produce one of the most graphically dramatic works in the range of French music … [indeed] the French prototype of a new species of ballet in which all the resources of scenic production, orchestral splendor, and detailed and plastic accompaniment of action combine.”

La Tragedie de Salome 1912 Florent Schmitt

A newspaper clipping from the 1912 Trouhanova production of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé in the composer’s new version — half the music, twice the musicians.

The plot line at which Edward Burlingame Hill is intimating is the dramatic action conceived by Robert d’Humières and set down in the following narrative that prefaces Schmitt’s published score, as translated from the original French by the music producer and arts administrator Harold Lawrence:

Prelude A terrace of Herod’s palace overlooking the Dead Sea.  The pink and reddish Moab Mountains shut in the horizon.  Dominating the scene is massive Mount Nebo, from which Moses, on the threshold of the Promised Land, greeted Canaan before his death.  The sun is setting.  John the Baptist crosses the terrace and disappears.

Danse des perles (Pearl Dance) — Torches illuminate the scene.  Their light draws sparking reflections from the clothing and jewels that spill out of a precious coffer.  Herodias [Salome’s mother], in a thoughtful mood, dips her hands into the coffer and removes necklaces and silken veils of gold.  Salome appears and leans over the chest in fascination.  She puts on the necklaces and veils, and begins to dance with childish glee.

Florent Schmitt Tragedie de Salome Inghelbrecht

Désiré Inghelbrecht conducted the orchestral forces at the 1907 premiere of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé. Maestro Inghelbrecht would conduct this music often in subsequent years, including an ORTF memorial concert in honor of Schmitt presented in October 1958 following the composer’s death. This billboard announces a 1920 Inghelbrecht performance.

Georges Wague

Georges Wague (1874-1965), the French actor and mime artist who portrayed Herod in Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé more than 75 times on the Paris Opéra stage. Considering the art of pantomime as capable of far greater emotional range than spoken words — particularly in communicating feelings — Wague once wrote, “With the blaze of a look, the cadence of a step, a torso rotation, a wrinkling of the features, a mime artist can characterize ulterior motives such as hatred, remorse, desire, enjoyment or disgust, which the most warmly described and dramatically well-stated phrases can only superficially provide.”

Les Enchantements sur la mer (The Magic of the Sea) Salome has gone.  Herod is lost in gloomy thoughts of lust and fear.  Herodias spies on her husband.  Mysterious lights gleam in the water’s depths.  Beneath the waves, the outlines of the engulfed Pentapolis are dimly perceived.  Distant sounds of an orgy emerge faintly through the shower of ash and bitumen over Sodom and Gomorrah: fragments of dance rhythms … signs … demented laughter …

A voice is heard from the abyss; Herod listens fearfully.  Vapors float upwards from the sea.  As if created out of troubled dreams and the guilt of old sin, a living cloud takes shape.  Out of this cloud, Salome suddenly leaps into view.  As the sound of thunder is heard in the distance, Salome begins to dance.  Herod stands …

Musique Moderne International poster 1923 Walther Straram

Walther Straram’s 1923 Musique Moderne Internationale season in Paris reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” of the classical composer world. Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé was included in the first of the concert programs during the season.

Theatre Hebertot

The interior of the Théâtre des Arts (now known as the Théâtre Hébertot), where Florent Schmitt’s ballet was first mounted in 1907.

Danse des éclairs (Dance of Lighting) Darkness envelops the scene, and flashes of lightning provide the only source of illumination.  In the wanton dance that follows, Herod pursues Salome, seizes her and tears off her veils.  Salome is naked — but only for an instant.  John the Baptist quickly appears and covers her body with his anchorite’s robe.  Herod is furious and orders John to be delivered to the executioner, who takes the prophet offstage and returns later with his severed head on a brass charger.

Florent Schmitt Walther Straram 1923

A 1923 performance of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé with the Walther Straram Orchestra. The concert also featured the pianist Magda Tagliaferro.

Salome triumphantly grasps the trophy and begins to dance.  Then, imagining that the voice of the prophet is whispering in her ear, she runs to the terrace’s edge and hurls the charger over the battlements into the sea.  The water immediately turns blood-red, terror grips everyone, and Salome collapses.  Salome recovers, but the head appears, stares at Salome, and vanishes.  From another position, the head reappears.  Salome tries to escape, but the heads multiply, springing up from all sides.  Salome covers her face in an attempt to blot out the grisly apparition.

Danse de l’effroi (Dance of Fright) A storm breaks out.  Raging winds envelop Salome as sulfurous clouds float out of the abyss.  A tempest rocks the sea and agitates the lonely deserts, while lofty cypresses twist convulsively in the wind and crash to earth.  Lightning bolts shake loose the stones of the citadel, Mount Nebo shoots forth flames, the entire Moab Mountain range takes fire — and Salome, swept away an infernal excitement, is crushed in the onslaught of the elements.

Tragedie de Salome + Peri

Brilliant together: Paul Dukas’ La Péri and Florent Schmitt’s Salomé shared billing on the same ballet program in 1912.

Today, while Salomé is performed mainly in the concert hall as a symphonic suite in the tradition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, one of the most memorable events in the annals of dance occurred in Paris in 1912 when a quartet of ballets was staged in a single evening: Paul Dukas’ La Péri … Vincent d’Indy’s Istar … Maurice Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales … and Florent Schmitt’s Salomé.  Each composer conducted his own stage work, leading the Lamoureux Orchestra.

Nathalie Trouhanova Florent Schmitt Salome

Cover of the 1912 dance programme featuring Natalia Trouhanova in four starring femme-fatale roles: Istar, Péri, Adelaïde (Valses nobles et sentimentales) … and Salomé.

Trouhanova program 1912 Schmitt d'Indy Dukas Ravel

The quartet of ballets presented at the famous 1912 Paris program featuring prima ballerina Natalia Trouhanova. Each of the four composers — Paul Dukas, Vincent d’Indy, Maurice Ravel and Florent Schmitt — conducted their own scores.

The last Parisian stage production of the ballet happened in 1954 at the Palais Garnier — a Paris Opéra production featuring choreography by Albert Aveline.  Lycette Darsonval starred in the title role and the orchestra was conducted by Robert Blot.

France may not have seen any recent revivals of the ballet, but in the past several years the Mariinsky Ballet has revived La Tragédie de Salomé as a theatre piece — to my knowledge, one of just three times the ballet has been presented on stage anywhere in more than half a century.

Schmitt Tragedie de Salome Paris Opera 1954

The 1954 Paris Opéra stage production, starring Lycette Darsonval in the title role of Salomé. (Photo: ©Boris Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet)

Despite the dearth of stage productions, Schmitt’s music has never lost its popularity in France.  Moreover, it has been brought to the far corners of the world by a surprisingly diverse group of conductors.  The Concertgebouw Orchestra played the score in 1913, the same year that the first performances in America were presented by Karl Muck and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in November and December of 1913; Dr. Muck also brought the music to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in January 1914.

Indeed, considering just the Boston Symphony alone, the piece has been presented there by Pierre Monteux (in 1919), Serge Koussevitzky (1931) and Dmitri Mitropoulos (1936), in addition to Dr. Muck.

Concertgebouw Orchestra Schmitt Salome 1913

The first performance of La Tragédie de Salomé outside of France was with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam in 1913.

The 1913 Concertgebouw program.

The 1913 concert performance of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé with the Concertgebouw Orchestra shared billing with Ernest Chausson’s Symphony in B-Flat.

Indeed, fortunate audiences on five continents have had the opportunity to see and hear this “perilously seductive” score — as one music critic from BBC Music Magazine has described it recently. The partial listing of public performances below attests to the piece’s widespread reach over the past 75 years.

[N.B. Special thanks to Chandler Cudlipp, former artistic advisor at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, for his assistance in compiling the performance listing below.  Additions and corrections to the information are welcomed.]


Public Performances Since 1945 – Partial Listing

1945  –  October 18, 19 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Désiré Defauw, conductor

(1950 – (Besançon Festival) – Paris Conservatoire Orchestra; André Cluytens, conductor

1951  –  March 7, 8, 10  –  Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam; Jean Fournet, conductor

1952  –  January 25, 27 – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Paul Paray, conductor

Paray Pittsburgh Symphony Schmitt 1952

In good company: Paul Paray’s 1952 Pittsburgh Symphony performances of Salomé also featured the music of Beethoven, Berlioz and Chabrier.

1952  –  December 11 – Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Paul Paray, conductor

1953 –  September 21  –  Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Eugène Bigot, conductor

1954 – December 15 – Paris Opera Orchestra; Robert Blot, conductor [Théâtre National de l’Opéra stage production]

1955  –  Sydney Symphony Orchestra; Joseph Post/Eugene Goossens, conductors

1955  –  February 21 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Pedro de Freitas Branco, conductor

1955  –  February 27  –  New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Rémus Tzincoca, conductor

Florent Schmitt Robert Blot Paris Opera 1954

Florent Schmitt confers with Robert Blot, conductor of the musical forces in the Paris Opéra’s revival of La Tragédie de Salomé in December 1954.

1956  –  March 21, 22, 23, 24, 25  –  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra; André Cluytens, conductor

1956  –  May 16  –  Philharmonia Orchestra; Rémus Tzincoca, conductor

1957  –  September 8 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Pierre-Michel Le Conte, conductor

1958  –  March 20 – Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Paul Paray, conductor

1958  –  May 20 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Pierre Dervaux, conductor

1958  –  October 16 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, conductor

1960  –  October 25 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Manuel Rosenthal, conductor

1961  –  July 14  –  National Symphony Orchestra of Portugal; Pedro de Freitas Branco, conductor

1961  –  October 20  –  Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra; Jean Fournet, conductor

1962  –  March 17, 18  –  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra; Francois-Julien Brun, conductor

1963  –  November 9  –  Lamoureux Concerts Orchestra; Jacques Bazire, conductor

1964 – December 27 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Eugène Bigot, conductor

1965  –  January 11, 12, 13  –  NHK Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo); Pierre Dervaux, conductor

1966  –  February 14  –  Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Paul Paray, conductor  (also performed on American tour, March/April 1966)

Boston Symphony Orchestra program January 1936 Florent Schmitt Salome Mitropoulos

The concert program for a January 1936 performance of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé, presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.

1970  –  October 25  –  Pasdeloup Concerts Orchestra; Gérard Devos, conductor

1970  –  December 2  –  Orchestre de Paris; Serge Baudo, conductor

1971  –  October 22 – Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Paul Paray, conductor

1972  –  April 9, 11  –  American Symphony Orchestra; Ainslee Cox, conductor

1973  –  January 7  –  Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Pierre Dervaux, conductor

1973 –  January 7  –  Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Jean Martinon, conductor

San Antonio Symphony program Huybrechts Florent Schmitt

The 1978 San Antonio Symphony Orchestra program, presented by music director François Huybrechts.

1973 –  June 19, 21, 22, 23  –  Orchestra of the Florence Maggio Musicale; Edoardo Müller, conductor  [Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Stage Production]

1974  –  March 6, 7, 8, 9  –  Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam; Jean Fournet, conductor

1974  –  March 13, 15, 16 – San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Kazuyoshi Akiyama, conductor (Japanese premiere performance)

1978  –  November 4, 6  –  San Antonio Symphony Orchestra; François Huybrechts, conductor

1981  –  October 19, 20; November 3, 4, 8, 13  –  L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Charles Dutoit, conductor  (also performed on a nine-city North American tour, October/November 1981)

Schmitt Salome Koblenz

The program cover for the Coblenz Ballet’s staging of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé in 1994/95.

1982  –  October 20, 21 [Wilmington, DE, USA] – Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France; Marc Soustrot, conductor

1983  –  October 2  –  Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo; Lawrence Foster, conductor

1983  –  October 25, 26  –  Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra; Emerson Buckley, conductor

1987  –  August 2  –  Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France; Marek Janowski, conductor [BBC Proms performance]

Fort Lauderdale Symphony program Florent Schmitt Emerson Buckley 1983

The 1983 performance by the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emerson Buckley.

1993  –  October 19  –  Orchestre National de France; James Conlon, conductor

1994/95 –  October 28, November 2, 4, 11, 14, 19, 22, December 10, 19, January 8, 10, 22, 26, February 19, March 2, 11, 14, 15  –  Coblenz Ballet Orchestra; Marioara Trifan and Christian Letschert, conductors  [Theater der Stadt Koblenz Stage Production]

Soustrot Schmitt Stravinsky Debussy-1995  –  May 21, 23, 24, 1995  –  Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie; Marc Soustrot, conductor

1995  –  June 10, 1995  –  Texas Festival Orchestra; Pascal Verrot, conductor

1996  –  November 27  –  Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; Jean Fournet, conductor

1997  –  April 23  –  RTVE Symphony Orchestra (Madrid); Richard Fletcher, conductor

1997  –  October 30  –  Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Diego Masson, conductor

1998  –  January 18, 28, 29, 30  –  Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra (Antwerp); Muhai Tang, conductor

1998  –  June 16  –  Orquesta Sinfonica Portuguesa (Lisbon); Giuliano Carella, conductor

Florent Schmitt: La Tragedie de Salome (score cover)

Brilliant orchestration in the Rimsky-Korsakov tradition: Florent Schmitt’s Salomé.

2000  –  January 9  –  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; Heinz Rögner, conductor

2000  –  February 17, 18, 21  –  NDR Hannover Radio-Philharmonic Orchestra; Manfred Trojahn, conductor

2000  –  April 12, 13  –  Thuringia Philharmonic Orchestra; Heinz Rögner, conductor

2000  –  May 9  –  Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; Jean Fournet, conductor

2000  –  September 1  –  Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra; Heinz Rögner, conductor

2000  –  December 7  –  Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F.; Yevgeny Svetlanov, conductor

2000  –  December 8  –  Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège; Serge Baudo, conductor

2002  –  July 14  –  Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo; Marek Janowski, conductor

2002  –  December 15, 16  –  Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra; Golo Berg, conductor

2003  –  April 17  –  Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse; Michel Plasson, conductor

Stephane Deneve

Passionate advocate: French conductor Stéphane Denève (2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017).

2004  –  May 11  –  Orchestra del Teatro Massimo; Stéphane Denève, conductor

2004  –  September 17  –  Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; James Conlon, conductor

2005  –  April 14  –  Orchestre National de Lyon; Stéphane Denève, conductor

2005  –  October 14  –  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Dorian Wilson, conductor (Russian premiere performance)

2005  –  November 4  –  Irish National Radio & Television Orchestra (RTE); Jacques Mercier, conductor

2006  –  January 22 – Paris Conservatoire Orchestra; Patrick Davin, conductor

2006  –  March 21  –  Ensemble Orchestral de Paris; Juraj Valcuha, conductor

2006  –  November 10, 11, 12  –  Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Stéphane Denève, conductor

2006  –  November 17  –  Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Ronald Zollman, conductor

2007  –  March 4  –  Edmonton Youth Orchestra; Michael Massey, conductor

2007  –  March 9, 10, 11  –  Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana; Juraj Valcuha, conductor

2007 – March 11, July 4  –  L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège; Pascal Rophé, conductor

2007  –  May 11  –  Spokane Symphony Orchestra; Eckart Preu, conductor

2007  –  July 29  –  National Orchestra of Italy; Massimiliano Caldi, conductor

2007  –  December 15  –  Southwest German Radio Symphony (Baden-Baden u. Freiburg); Sylvain Cambreling, conductor

2008  –  March 12  –  National Philharmonic of Russia (Moscow); Ion Marin, conductor

2008  –  June 30  –  Zurich Chamber Orchestra; Muhai Tang, conductor [original 1907 version]

2008  –  December 4  –  Orchestre National de France; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Lionel Bringuier French orchestra conductor

A beloved repertoire staple: French conductor Lionel Bringuier (2009, 2015, 2017).

2009  –  February 5  –  Limburg Symphony Orchestra (Maastricht); Lionel Bringuier, conductor

2009  –  February 20  –  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

Ira Levin Florent Schmitt Salome Brasilia

Ira Levin conducts Brasilia’s Claudio Santoro Orchestra in South American performances of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (2009).

2009  –  February 27  –  BBC Symphony Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

2009  –  March 4  –  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

2009  –  April 14, 24, November 24  –  Orchestre Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro (Brasilia); Ira Levin, conductor

2009  –  April 24, 26, 27  –  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

2009  –  May 15, 16  –  Orchestre National de Montpellier; Alain Altinoglu, conductor

2007  –  July  –  Ulster Orchestra; Pascal Rophé, conductor

2009  –  November 22  – Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Yannick Nezet-Seguin recording Florent Schmitt's Tragedie de Salome

Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s 2009 performance with the Orchestre Métropolitain was also recorded and released on the ATMA label.

2010  –  March 20-28  –  Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra; Pascal Verrot, conductor

2010  –  May 20, 21, 22  –  Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, conductor

2011  –  March 30, 31  –  Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Stéphane Denève, conductor

2011  –  May 12, 13 – Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra; Alain Paris, conductor

Schmitt-salome-TSO program-Deneve

French conductor Stéphane Denève brought La Tragédie de Salomé to Canadian audiences in 2011 (Toronto Symphony Orchestra).

2012  –  February 23, 24  –  Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Alain Altinoglu, conductor

2012  –  May 16  –  Orchestre de Paris; Alain Altinoglu, conductor

2012  –  June 1  –  Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse; Alain Altinoglu, conductor

2013  –  May 28, 29, 30, 31, June 1 – Teatro Verdi Orchestra (Trieste); Alexei Repnikov, conductor  [Mariinsky Ballet stage production]

2013  –  November 13 – Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Lan Shui, conductor

2014  –  July 2, 4 – Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra (Stuttgart); Stéphane Denève, conductor

2014  –  October 30 – Sibiu State Philharmonic Orchestra (Romania); Gottfried Rabl, conductor

2015  –  January 31  –  Sinfonietta Shizuoka (Tokyo); Tomoya Nakahara, conductor [original 1907 version]

2015  –  April 16, 18  –  The Cleveland Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

Cleveland Orchetra Lionel Bringuier Schmitt

The Cleveland Orchestra’s concert program, conducted by Lionel Bringuier (April 2015). Maestro Bringuier’s performances of Schmitt’s composition were the first ones presented by The Cleveland Orchestra in more than 70 years.

2015  –  May 14, 15, 16  –  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

Lionl Bringuier Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Florent Schmitt Salome

Lionel Bringuier rehearsing Florent Schmitt’s La Tragedie de Salome with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (May 2015).

2015  –  March 19  –  Sinfonietta Shizuoka; Tomoya Nakahara, conductor [original 1907 version]

2015  –  July 31, August 1  –  National Youth Orchestra of Wales; Paul Daniel, conductor

2015  –  October 1  –  Real Filharmonica de Galicia; Paul Daniel, conductor

2015  –  October 8, 9  –  Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux; Paul Daniel, conductor

2015  –  October 17  –  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra; Miha Rogina, conductor

Florent Schmitt Salome Miha Rogina

In 2015, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Miha Rogina performed La Tragédie de Salomé in the Schlosstheater Schönbrunn in Vienna — reportedly the first time the piece had been presented in Austria in decades.

2016  –  April 22 – Moldova Philharmonic Orchestra of Iasi; Gottfried Rabl, conductor


Austrian conductor Gottfried Rabl introduced Schmitt’s score to concert audiences in Romania — and keeps right on going with follow-up performances in that country (2014, 2016, 2018).

2016  –  March 7 – Paris Conservatoire Student/Graduate Orchestra; Alain Altinoglu, conductor

2016  –  May 22, 23 – Stuttgart State Orchestra; Sylvain Cambreling, conductor

Schmitt Tragedie de Salome Cambreling Stuttgart 2016

The Stuttgart State Orchestra’s performances of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé were presented in April 2016. Sylvain Cambreling conducted.

2016  –  September 15 – Orchestre National de France; Stéphane Denève, conductor

Stephane Deneve Florent Schmitt Orchestre National de France 2016

Conductor Stéphane Denève rehearses the Orchestre National de France in preparation for presenting Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (September 2016).

2016  –  October 22 – Asheville Symphony Orchestra; Daniel Meyer, conductor

2016  –  November 12 – Fresno State Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Loewenheim, conductor

2017  –  January 12, 13, 14 – Philadelphia Orchestra; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Philadelphia Orchestra Paris Festival Week 1 Schmitt Canteloube

Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra presented La Tragédie de Salomé as part of its Paris Festival series of concerts in January 2017. It was the first time the orchestra had performed Florent Schmitt’s score in nearly a century (1919).

2017  –  January 14 – Tokyo Symphony Orchestra; Kazuyoshi Akiyama, conductor

2017  –  February 25, 26 – Spokane Symphony Orchestra; Eckart Preu, conductor

2017  –  April 20, 21 – Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège; John Neschling, conductor

2017  –  May 10, 11 – Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Stéphane Denève, conductor

2017  –  September 29 – Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra; Daniel Myssyk, conductor

2017  –  October 18, 19 – Orchestre de Paris; Jonathan Darlington, conductor

Jonathan Darlington Orchestre de Paris

Jonathan Darlington and the Orchestre de Paris present La Tragédie de Salomé (October 2017). (Photo: Osmo Tapio Räihälä)

2017  –  November 16 – Orchestre National de Lyon; Lionel Bringuier, conductor

2018  –  February 2 – Transylvanian State Philharmonic Orchestra of Cluj (Romania); Gottfried Rabl, conductor

2018  –  September 27, 29 – Malmö Symphony Orchestra; Marc Soustrot, conductor

2018  –  December 8, 9  –  Orquesta Filarmónica de México (UNAM, Mexico City); Ronald Zollman, conductor

Florent Schmitt Salome UNAM Zollman 2018

Ronald Zollman introduces La Tragédie de Salomé to Mexican concert-goers (December 2018).

2019  –  March 2, 3 – Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Susan Platts, mezzo-soprano; Buffalo Girlchoir; JoAnn Falletta, conductor

BPO Dress Rehearsal Florent Schmitt 2019

Conductor JoAnn Falletta rehearses the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Buffalo Girlchoir in preparation for presenting Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (March 2019).

Buffalo Philharmonic concert program Florent Schmitt Tailleferre Brahms concert program Buffalo Philharmonic March 2019

The March 2019 Buffalo Philharmonic concert program, featuring two compositions by Florent Schmitt in addition to works by Germaine Tailleferre and Johannes Brahms.

2019  –  March 8, 9 – Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Karen Vourc’h, soprano; Jacek Kaspszyk, conductor

2019  –  May 4, 5 – Bern Symphony Orchestra; Mario Venzago, conductor

2019  –  July 12 – Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra; Kazuyoshi Akiyama, conductor

Florent Schmitt Salome Akiyama Hiroshima Symphony 2019

Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé anchors an all-French program by the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama (July 2019).

2019  –  November 8 – Augusta Symphony; Women of the Augusta Choral Society; Dirk Meyer, conductor

Augusta Symphony Florent Schmitt Gustav Holst Dirk Meyer

The Augusta Symphony’s presentation of Florent Schmitt’s Salomé under the direction of German-American conductor Dirk Meyer was a sold-out performance (November 2019).

2020  –  March 14, 15 – Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Lionel Bringuier, conductor  [canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak]

2020  –  March 21 – Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; David Stern, conductor  [canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak]

2020  –  May 9, 17 – Theatro Municipal Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro; Ira Levin, conductor  [postponed]

2020  –  November 4 – Sinfonietta Shizuoka; Tomoya Nakahara, conductor [original 1907 version]  [planned]

2020  –  November 13, 14 – St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Stéphane Denève, conductor  [planned]

2020  –  November 19, 20 – Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg; Fabien Gabel, conductor  [planned]

2020  –  December 3 – Orchestre Française de Jeunes; Fabien Gabel, conductor  [planned]

2020  –  December 9, 10 – Orchestre Symphonique de Québec; Fabien Gabel, conductor  [planned]

2021  –  February 5, 6, 7 – Houston Symphony; Fabien Gabel, conductor  [planned]

2021  –  March 12, 13 – Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Fabien Gabel, conductor  [planned]

2021  –  May 8 – Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra & Chorus; Dirk Meyer, conductor  [planned]

2021  –  May 20, 21 – Ensemble Les Apaches; Marion Tassou, soprano; Julien Masmondet, conductor [original 1907 version]  [planned]

Recordings of La Tragédie de Salomé

Florent Schmitt Salome Straram 1930

The second commercial recording of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé, made in 1930, featured the composer as conductor, too.

As Florent Schmitt’s most famous composition, it should come as no surprise that more than 15 recordings have been released of this music — either studio recordings or taken from live concert performances.  This article provides details on each of those recordings.

13 thoughts on “La Tragédie de Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s Sinuous Temptress, Seducing Audiences for 100 Years

  1. Pingback: One Heck of a Film Score: Florent Schmitt’s Salammbô « Florent Schmitt

  2. Pingback: Psalm XLVII: Florent Schmitt’s Blockbuster Choral Masterpiece « Florent Schmitt

  3. Pingback: Conductors JoAnn Falletta and Jorge Mester Talk About the Music of Florent Schmitt « Florent Schmitt

  4. Pingback: Available online: Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé, performed live by Alain Altinoglu and l’Orchestre de Paris. | Florent Schmitt

  5. Pingback: The Mariinsky Ballet Revives Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé | Florent Schmitt

  6. Pingback: Florent Schmitt’s Intense, Monumental Piano Quintet (1908) | Florent Schmitt

  7. Pingback: Youthful Exuberance: Lionel Bringuier’s Thrilling Performance of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (Stockholm, 2009) | Florent Schmitt

  8. Pingback: Le petit elfe Ferme-l’oeil: Florent Schmitt’s Children’s Ballet | Florent Schmitt

  9. Pingback: Oriane et le Prince d’amour: Florent Schmitt’s Final ‘Orientalist’ Composition (1933) | Florent Schmitt

  10. Pingback: La Tragédie de Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s most famous composition … 15 commercial recordings and counting. | Florent Schmitt

  11. Pingback: Janiana: Florent Schmitt’s Rich, Robust Symphony for String Orchestra (1941) | Florent Schmitt

  12. Pingback: Excitement on Steroids: Five Live Concert Recordings of Florent Schmitt’s Blockbuster Choral Composition Psalm 47 (1904) | Florent Schmitt

  13. Pingback: Forgotten Records: Resurrecting noteworthy recordings of Florent Schmitt’s music from the LP era. | Florent Schmitt

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