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 […]

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 […]

Contrasting voices: Florent Schmitt’s a cappella masterpiece A contre-voix (1944).

Within the vast catalogue of music created by the French composer Florent Schmitt are a great number of vocal compositions. Indeed, throughout his 70+ year composing career, Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice — writing works for solo voice as well as for chorus. The choral pieces are particularly interesting in […]

American choral director Scott Tucker talks about the connection between Gabriel Fauré, Lili Boulanger and Florent Schmitt — and presenting Schmitt’s Psaume XLVII in a concert showcasing the important choral legacy of all three composers.

“It was the most thrilling piece I’d heard in years.  I was so moved by its unbridled joy that I knew we had to build an entire concert around it …” — Scott Tucker, Artistic Director, The Choral Arts Society of Washington On Sunday, May 19, 2019, The Choral Arts Society of Washington will present a […]

Keyboard musician Emmanuel Pélaprat talks about Florent Schmitt’s Chant de guerre (1914) and preparing transcriptions for the Musiciens et la Grande Guerre series of recordings (Editions Hortus).

One of the most artistically significant and vital projects to come out of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I is a group of 35 recordings published by Editions Hortus in its Musiciens et la Grande Guerre series.  These recordings have been issued over a five-year span – each one based on […]

Conductor JoAnn Falletta and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts talk about preparing Florent Schmitt’s music for performance and recording (Musique sur l’eau – 1898/1913 and La Tragédie de Salomé – 1907/10).

In 2020, the NAXOS label plans to release its second disk of music by the French composer Florent Schmitt that features the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its music director, JoAnn Falletta. The first recording, which was released in 2015, included several orchestral pieces by Schmitt:  the two Antoine et Cléopâtre suites (after William Shakespeare) and […]

Infectious elegance and so much more: Florent Schmitt’s Trois valses nocturnes (1901).

French composer Florent Schmitt’s abilities as a pianist were considerable. Even so, he characterized the piano as “a convenient but disappointing substitute for the orchestra.” Taking a look at Schmitt’s piano scores, what’s immediately apparent are the technical demands that are required to do the music justice.  It’s akin to what the French pianist Alfred Cortot famously […]

Clavecin obtempérant (1945), Florent Schmitt’s endlessly fascinating harpsichord suite created for Marcelle de Lacour.

Over a lengthy career spanning more than seven decades, the French composer Florent Schmitt created numerous works that showcased the special qualities of various different instruments — including some that are not so often the “featured celebrities” in scores. As an accomplished keyboard artist, it’s no surprise that the composer’s catalogue of works contains many […]