Composer of the Month designation coincides with the commemoration of Schmitt’s 150th birthday anniversary.
BBC Music Magazine has honored French composer Florent Schmitt as its Composer of the Month for September, 2020. The coverage coincides with activities commemorating the 150th birthday anniversary of the composer, who was born in Blâmont, Lorraine on September 28, 1870.
The coverage in BBC Music Magazine dovetails with various other commemorative activities scheduled during the 2020 anniversary year, including feature articles published in Belgium’s Crescendo and Germany’s FonoForum music magazines. In addition, France-Musique has produced a three part broadcast series featuring a wide range of works composed by Schmitt, while new commercial recordings have been issued on the NAXOS and Resonus labels that contain several significant world premieres.
The feature article in BBC Music Magazine was penned by Roger Nichols, a British music scholar and a contributing writer for the magazine who is a highly respected specialist in French music. Nichols has authored books and articles devoted to composers such as Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Olivier Messiaen.
Roger Nichols is also the author of the 2003 book The Harlequin Years: Music in Paris, 1917-1929 — the research sources for which undoubtedly gave him a wealth of information about Florent Schmitt to prepare his BBC Music Magazine feature article.
The degree to which he is an esteemed scholar on French music is such that the French Government appointed Nichols a chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in 2007 in recognition of his accomplishments.
Nichols’ article on Schmitt is well-worth reading. In it, he recounts the composer’s early life and how his studies at the music conservatory in Nancy prepared him to enter the Paris Conservatoire in 1889, where his composition teachers would include Massenet and Fauré.
Nichols also provides colorful anecdotes about Schmitt’s “pronouncements” as a Parisian music critic from the early 1900s until the outbreak of the Second World War. Few composers were spared Schmitt’s pithy and sometimes-acerbic commentary if their music didn’t measure up to his own high standards.
In addition, Nichols provides an illuminating description of Florent Schmitt’s compositional style — one that captures its essence beautifully and gets at the heart of Schmitt’s “secret sauce” better than most any other writer.
The Nichols article on Florent Schmitt is available to view in the September 2020 digital edition of BBC Music Magazine via this link. The feature article begins on Page 56.