“Pure Music Masterpiece”: Florent Schmitt’s Sonate libre for Violin and Piano (1918-19).

Within Florent Schmitt’s musical output are a half-dozen works that feature the violin.  Perhaps the most significant of them is his Sonate libre, Op. 68, a work he composed in 1918-19 at Artiguemy, his country retreat in the Hautes-Pyrenees. The formal title of the music is a real mouthful:  Sonate libre en deux parties enchaînées, ad modem Clementis […]

Voluptuous Colors: Florent Schmitt’s Suite for Trumpet (1955)

Over his long composing career, Florent Schmitt wrote numerous concertante pieces showcasing nearly every instrument of the orchestra. As with a good number of other French composers, some of these works were written as examination pieces for students at the Paris Conservatoire. A representative example is Schmitt’s Suite en trois parties for Trumpet & Piano, Op. […]

Spanish flautist Roberto Casado talks about Florent Schmitt’s Sonatine en Trio and Suite en rocaille – and their place in French Impressionistic music.

The Spanish flautist and chamber musician Roberto Casado discovered the music of Florent Schmitt as part of a quest to find new repertoire pieces in the French Impressionist tradition. His goal was to find scores that weren’t derivative, but instead contained interesting touches that distinguished them from the well-known works of Ravel and Debussy. This mission […]

Florent Schmitt and the Flute (Scherzo-Pastorale; Quatuor; Suite en trois parties)

For a composer who wrote many pages of chamber and instrumental music featuring nearly every instrument of the orchestra, Florent Schmitt’s compositions featuring the flute are comparative few. This may seem surprising for a musician who actually played the flute in several military musical ensembles during World War I.  Nevertheless, I count only three such works in the Schmitt […]

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

We know that Florent Schmitt’s penultimate work was the Symphony No. 2, composed in 1957 and premiered in 1958 by Charles Munch and the French National Radio Orchestra a few months before the composer’s death at age 87. The question is, which composition stands as Schmitt’s first essay in the genre?  Because in fact, the […]

Elegance and Class: Florent Schmitt’s Quartet Pour presque tous les temps (1956)

One of the final works created by the French composer Florent Schmitt was a quartet he titled Pour presque tous les temps. It is one of the last numbered compositions in Schmitt’s entire output (#134 out of a total of 138 opus numbers) and was completed in 1956, two years before the composer’s death. Schmitt was known […]

Lied et Scherzo (1910), Florent Schmitt’s Incredible Piece Featuring the French Horn

One of the most interesting works by Florent Schmitt is his Lied et Scherzo, Op. 54, which he composed in 1910. The piece was first conceived as a work for double wind quintet, with one of the French horns acting as soloist throughout. The work was dedicated to Schmitt’s fellow French composer Paul Dukas, who […]

Saxophonist Christopher Bartz talks about Florent Schmitt’s Légende (1918) and its pride of place in the saxophone repertoire.

Florent Schmitt’s Légende, Op. 66 is one of the most compelling concertante pieces ever written for the saxophone.  Composed in 1918, it’s a work that exists in versions for saxophone, viola and violin soloist, along with orchestral or piano accompaniment. Simply put, it’s an unforgettable piece of music:  Within the span of just ten minutes, Schmitt presents a rhapsodic […]

Élizabeth Herbin, French Pianist and Daughter of Composer René Herbin, Talks about the Music of Florent Schmitt and her Father

The French pianist Élizabeth Herbin has long been a champion of the music of her father, the composer René Herbin (1911-1953). This includes making recordings of his music, including one featuring Herbin’s Quartet #1 for Piano & Strings, composed in 1949. That celebrated recording, on the Gallo label, also contains two works by Florent Schmitt: […]

Florent Schmitt’s Intense, Monumental Piano Quintet (1908)

The catalog of music composed by Florent Schmitt contains numerous chamber works. Among them are three large-scale compositions for string ensemble: the Trio, Op. 105, the Quartet, Op. 112, and the Piano Quintet, Op. 51. The Piano Quintet was the first of these three pieces to be created; Schmitt worked on the score for six […]

Hasards: A Quartet that Illustrates Florent Schmitt’s Highly Interesting Chamber Music Style (1943)

The chamber music pieces of Florent Schmitt are quite interesting and varied. Among them are wonderfully intimate works such as the Sonatine en Trio from 1934 which have a flavor somewhat similar to the chamber works of Schmitt’s compatriots Debussy and Ravel. But there are numerous other Schmitt compositions for chamber players that inhabit a different sound-world – more full-bodied and containing surprising […]

Florent Schmitt and the Saxophone (Légende; Saxophone Quartet)

The saxophone has always held a tenuous position in the symphony orchestra. Perhaps because of its relatively late invention (around 1845), it’s never really become a full-fledged part of the wind section. Undoubtedly too, some composers have found the saxophone’s sonorities to be better suited for wind ensembles and pop bands than for classical music. But if […]

The intimate Florent Schmitt: Suite en rocaille (1934) and Sonatine en trio (1935).

For music-lovers who know Florent Schmitt’s big orchestral works, it might be surprising to learn that the composer also wrote many pieces for solo instruments and chamber ensembles. There is a vast trove of music for solo and duo-piano, and some of these are the beneficiary of fine recordings made recently by pianists like Vincent Larderet, […]