In Florent Schmitt’s 150th birthday anniversary year, a new recording featuring the composer’s vocal music is being prepared.

Funding from Florent Schmitt aficionados around the world is being sought to help underwrite the project.

Florent Schmitt 1900 photo

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958), photographed in about 1900. 2020 is the composer’s 150th birthday anniversary year.

As we embark on the 150th birthday anniversary year of Florent Schmitt, who was born in 1870, it is particularly gratifying to discover that this milestone is being recognized in increased programming of Schmitt’s music in Europe, North America, Asia and elsewhere.  Equally gratifying are the recording projects that are happening; I am aware of at least three such projects that are being planned for the year 2020.

One of them is a recording focusing on Schmitt’s vocal music that is being spearheaded by the pianist Edward Rushton.

Edward Rushton pianist

Edward Rushton

A native of the United Kingdom who has been based in Switzerland for the past decade, Rushton has harbored a love for Schmitt’s music for decades, and in recent years has studied and performed the composer’s solo piano pieces as well as vocal scores.

Recently, the pianist shared details of this new recording project which I am pleased to share. As you’ll see below, Rushton’s project is particularly gratifying in that more than half of the music planned for the new release will be recording premieres.

At present, funding is being sought for the recording sessions that will be happening within the next 60 days, as well as post-production work.  I have contributed to the project and hope that many other Schmitt aficionados around the world will be motivated to donate as well, as this recording will fill several important gaps in the recorded legacy of Florent Schmitt.

Edward Rushton’s letter and solicitation for project funding follows:

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am happy to announce a new recording project for 2020, which I am undertaking with five wonderful musicians: a CD of songs by the French composer Florent Schmitt. The CD will also be released in 2020, the composer’s 150th Birthday Anniversary year.

In order to make this project possible financially, we are depending on help from you: crowd-funding!

The Composer and the Project

Florent Schmitt’s orchestral music, his ballets and his chamber music are enjoying an ever-increasing presence in the concert hall and on disc. However, his songs have been almost completely neglected for well-more than a half-century. Many of the songs on our CD will be world premiere recordings.

You may be familiar with the music of Florent Schmitt already, or perhaps you’d like to get to know some of his more popular works, available on the Internet; search for La Tragédie de Salomé or Dionysiaques for example — two of his works which got me enthusiastic about Schmitt during my teen years.

A few adjectives spring to mind when trying to describe this music: sensual bordering on orgiastic, wild, uncompromising. His use of polyphony and harmony are extremely complex, in some cases anticipating Messiaen and the Spectralists. Schmitt’s affinity with the darker side of human existence is fascinating; there’s something diabolical about the best of his music. I personally find his music astonishing, and I am very excited to be involved in this project.

The Production

Andreas Werner

Recording engineer and producer Andreas Werner.

Recording sessions will take place from the 26th to the 28th January 2020 in the Radio Studio in Zurich. Swiss Radio (Schweizer Radio SRF) is acting as co-producer, in that it is providing the studio and one piano tuning free of charge. The CD will be released on the respected label Resonus Classics during the course of 2020. We are delighted that Andreas Werner will be the engineer and recording producer for the project.

The Programme

  • 3 Mélodies, Op. 4 (1895)
  • 2 Chansons, Op. 18 (1901)
  • Chansons à quatre voix, Op. 39 (1905)
  • 4 Lieds, Op. 45 (1912)
  • Kérob-Shal, Op. 67 (1924)
  • 3 Chants, Op. 98 (1943)
  • 4 Poèmes de Ronsard, Op. 100 (1942)

The songs we are recording derive from different periods of Schmitt’s long composing career. The Op. 4 songs, for example, very much inhabit the voluptuous world of late-Romanticism, although one can already make out many of Schmitt’s personal and highly individual fingerprints.

The Chansons, Op. 39 for four voices and piano duet are full of joy, fire and sensuousness.

Florent Schmitt Kerob-Shal score

The score to Florent Schmitt’s Kerob-Shal, Op. 67, composed in 1920-24.

The many astounding songs of the 1910s and 20s are filled with darker, expressionistic harmonies which underscore the cryptic and fathomless poetry. This is a world of nightmares and fantastical visions that is typical of Florent Schmitt’s preference for weird and pitiless exoticism.

In his later songs, composed during the Second World War, you can recognize Florent Schmitt’s increasing preoccupation with neo-classicism and a more ancient French culture. This is manifested not just in his choice of poetry but also in his musical language. His humour and daring remain 100% Schmitt, needless to say! There is a clear parallel to Debussy’s return to the values and sound-world of Old France during the First World War, as well as a rejection of Germanic culture (which until then Schmitt had felt very close to).

Florent Schmitt Quatre lieds score

A vintage copy of the score to Florent Schmitt’s Quatre lieds, published in 1912.

The Musicians

Fabienne Romer Edward Rushton

Duo-pianists Fabienne Romer and Edward Rushton in recital (Veivy, Switzerland, 2016).

This group of musicians has performed the Chansons à quatre voix, Op. 39 a number of times over the last few years. We have found a meaningful distribution of the rest of the songs according to voice-type, and so that both pianists have an equal share of the music. It is a real team-project.

Florent Schmitt vocal recording musicians

The team of musicians participating in the new recording of vocal music by Florent Schmitt (Basel, Switzerland, January 12, 2020).

Financial Resource Requirements

I am completely convinced of the importance of getting this remarkable music — so much of it never recorded before — out into the world. It’s a unique opportunity to do this now, with such a quality group of musicians and in Florent Schmitt’s jubilee year.

SRF Zurich

In-kind contribution: Swiss Radio’s recording studio is being provided free of charge.

There are certain costs to cover, however, in producing such a project. We are depending on your generous financial support: no single person could ever finance such a venture on his or her own, and certainly not a freelance musician! Here is a resumé of the costs (in Swiss Francs):

  • Studio: Swiss Radio is providing it free
  • Piano tuning: 1x provided free, 2x ca. CHF 250
  • Recording producer / engineer: CHF 7000 + CHF 539 VAT + Travelling expenses (ca. CHF 50)
  • Fee for six musicians: 6x CHF 1000
  • Minimum purchase of CDs from the label (this is a condition of the deal with Resonus): 500 CDs @ CHF 5 = CHF 2500
  • French coaching: CHF 900
  • SUISA-fee (Copyright fee for mechanical reproduction): CHF 500
  • Contingency for unforeseen extras: CHF 500

It is our aim to raise — with your help — these 18,600 Francs (approximately £14,600 or $19,300).

Every donor of 100 Francs or more will be mentioned in the booklet (if desired) and rewarded with a free copy of the published CD signed by all the artists. We are grateful for donations of any size, of course; the more generous, the better for the project!

You can transfer your donation via bankwire — up until the beginning of February 2020 — to the bank account of the Association “Besuch der Lieder”, and please add the note “Florent Schmitt.”

  • Account name: Besuch der Lieder
  • The IBAN is CH66 0900 0000 6131 3983 8
  • The BIC or SWIFT code is POFICHBEXXX.
  • Please add your name and address so that we can thank you in writing.

PayPal logoAs an alternative for those who wish to avoid international bank wire service fees which can be a high fixed amount regardless of the size of the donation, PayPal is an alternative we are also offering.  After signing in to your PayPal account, you can send any amount of funds to the project by filling in the e-mail, which will bring up the account.

While there is a fee to make a donation from outside the country, the amount is calculated as a downward sliding percentage based on the size of the donation — and in any case will be lower than international bank wire service fees.  Be sure to type “Florent Schmitt” in the memo box, and please also include your name and address so we can thank you in writing.

Many thanks for your worthwhile and valued support! We are greatly looking forward to recording this amazing music in late January for release during 2020!

In the name of the artists, and wishing you a very Happy New Year,

~Edward Rushton

Sternenstrasse 1, 3360 Herzogenbuchsee, Switzerland

+41 76 450 1719

Leave a Reply