Florent Schmitt and Heitor Villa-Lobos: An enduring friendship anchored in music.

Throughout his lengthy career, the French composer Florent Schmitt maintained personal friendships with many of his counterparts.  He was at the center of musical life in Paris, having particularly close relationships with Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Gabriel Pierné, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré, and numerous other French composers, in addition to helping the careers of younger […]

Danse des Devadasis (1908): Florent Schmitt’s masterful evocation of the temple dancers of South India.

“What I find most astonishing about this piece is the fact that such heightened intensity and élan is achieved in record time … Florent Schmitt packs in the musical imagery required to make us imagine in our minds — and feel in our bodies — the dancing rites and rituals of the Devadasis. He makes […]

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. 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, […]

Pièces romantiques (1900-08): Florent Schmitt’s “transitional” suite for solo piano.

Throughout his lengthy creative career which spanned more than seven decades from the 1890s to the 1950s, the French composer Florent Schmitt would create vast swaths of piano music. For a composer who possessed considerable pianistic talents of his own, it seems completely fitting that he would do so — and predictably, many of the […]

Late bloomer? Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (1907/10) is now making a splash with regional orchestras and student ensembles.

Of Florent Schmitt’s major compositions, undoubtedly the one that has achieved the greatest fame over the decades is the ballet La Tragédie de Salomé, which Schmitt created for the dancer Loïe Fuller who presented the hour-long “mimed drama” at the Théâtre des Arts (now the Théâtre Hébertot) in Paris in 1907. That original version of La […]

Musicologist and conductor César Leal talks about the impresario Gabriel Astruc and his consequential role in Parisian musical and artistic life in the early 1900s.

Not long ago, I compiled a listing of published biographies, other books and dissertations that cover music and the arts in Paris during the time of Florent Schmitt’s career as a composer (roughly the 70-year period from 1890 to 1960).  Among the many documents I discovered, one of the most interesting was one that focused […]

Florent Schmitt’s strikingly inventive Quartet for Trombones and Tuba (1946): Leaving the ‘oompah’ behind.

It’s quite likely that many music-lovers who know of French composer Florent Schmitt are most familiar with his “big” pieces scored for large orchestral forces, overlaid with sparkling orchestration in the grandest post-Rimsky tradition.  And it’s true that many of Schmitt’s best-known works are just those kinds of compositions — pieces like La Tragédie de Salomé, […]

French-American conductor David Grandis talks about discovering the music of French composer Max d’Ollone and championing his repertoire in the concert hall.

Regular readers of the Florent Schmitt Website + Blog know that occasionally we “relax the routine” a bit and delve into the artistry of other composers — particularly ones who lived and worked in the same time period as Schmitt.  (See, for example, these articles about Stravinsky, Ravel and Zandonai.) Another such person is Max […]

Quiet intensity and moving moderation: Messe en quatre parties, Florent Schmitt’s final composition (1958).

Many music-lovers I know are under the mistaken impression that Florent Schmitt’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 137 was the last piece the composer created.  It’s a reasonable supposition because the Symphony received its premiere performance in Strasbourg on June 15, 1958, by the French National Radio Orchestra under the direction of Charles Munch, just two […]

Canadian pianist Linda Ippolito talks about discovering and performing Pupazzi (1907), Florent Schmitt’s whimsical tribute to Commedia dell’Arte characters.

Over the past 20 years, the vast majority of Florent Schmitt’s music for piano solo has been rediscovered by a new generation of music-lovers. Moreover, nearly all of this music has been commercially recorded at least one time. However, one piano composition, Pupazzi, Opus 36 (Puppets), hasn’t been part of the revival, and the work […]

Diverse winds: Florent Schmitt’s late-career quintet Chants alizés (1951-55).

In his later period of creation, French composer Florent Schmitt would turn to the sonorities of wind instruments for a goodly number of his creations. This may seem surprising for an artist who had made his reputation on his numerous “big orchestra” compositions along with a noteworthy collection of “orientalist” creations.  But if we recall […]

Simplicity, elegance and wit: Florent Schmitt’s piano suite Small Gestures (1940).

Although he played the flute and the organ, French composer Florent Schmitt’s main instrument was the piano. So it should come as little surprise that when we look at Schmitt’s extensive catalogue of 138 opus numbers plus several additional creations, piano works comprise the largest single component of his output. On the other hand, Schmitt’s most […]

Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin and French conductor Fabien Gabel talk about becoming acquainted with Florent Schmitt’s choral spectacular Psalm 47 (1904) and preparing the music for performance.

On May 29, 2019, the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebéc and its chorus presented the orchestra’s final concert of the season – one that featured French music exclusively. The event was a red-carpet affair at the Grand-Théâtre in Québec City in which local dignitaries were invited guests of the orchestra.  Also noteworthy was the centerpiece of […]

Director Bill Barclay and conductor JoAnn Falletta talk about mounting a dramatic adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra that pairs Shakespeare’s words with Florent Schmitt’s jaw-dropping music from the 1920 Paris production of the play.

By now, it seems that Florent Schmitt’s two Antoine et Cléopâtre Suites, Op. 69 have at last transitioned from being true rarities to become orchestral repertoire that is actually known.  There are now four commercial recordings of the suites (three of them made within the past decade), and in the past several years the music […]

Andantino (Vocalise): Florent Schmitt’s most versatile composition (1906).

The French composer Florent Schmitt was known for creating multiple versions of many of his compositions. Throughout his lengthy career, time and again the composer would produce additional arrangements of his works featuring different sets of instruments. To illustrate, many of Schmitt’s orchestral works were also published in piano reduction scores (solo, duet and/or piano […]