Discovering the man behind the musician: The personal remembrances of French composer Florent Schmitt’s biographer, Yves Hucher (1958).

When the composer Florent Schmitt died in August 1958 at the age of nearly 88 years, many prominent musicians, scholars and journalists wrote words of tribute honoring the last of the “grand generation” of French composers that had included, among others, Debussy, Dukas, Ravel, Roussel, Koechlin, Pierné, Cras, Rabaud, Ropartz and Tournemire. Along those lines, […]

Pianist and musicologist Frank Cooper talks about discovering Florent Schmitt’s Trois rapsodies (1903-4) and preparing a pioneering recital performance of the piece with Martin Marks in 1967.

Among the most impressive music channels on YouTube are two that are run by Helen Moritz, who has uploaded a wealth of rare piano performances from yesteryear. Ms. Moritz has painstakingly searched for audio recordings of recitals given by some of classical music’s greatest pianists.  Among the artists are Jorge Bolet, Mieszyslaw Horszowski, Raymond Lewenthal, […]

Pianist Biljana Urban talks about her new recording featuring world premiere renditions of works by Florent Schmitt.

Five premiere recordings are part of the new collection devoted to the solo piano music of the composer, scheduled for release in October 2021 on NAXOS’s Grand Piano label. Over his long career, French composer Florent Schmitt created many piano compositions — a body of work spanning more than a half-century from the early 1890s […]

Scènes de la vie moyenne (1950): Florent Schmitt’s late-career work for orchestra.

During the latter years of Florent Schmitt’s long and illustrious career, the composer turned his creative talents increasingly toward music for scored small instrumental forces.  Among the notable achievements of this late creative period are the fascinating (and challenging) String Trio (1944) and String Quartet (1948), as well as a group of compositions that showcase […]

Something borrowed, something new: Exploring the recurring musical themes and passages in Florent Schmitt’s catalogue of works.

It isn’t uncommon for classical composers to create alternate versions of their musical creations.  Many have prepared piano reductions of their orchestral works, or done the opposite by orchestrating pieces originally written for piano. We also have numerous examples of pieces that began life as chamber music that were later orchestrated by their creators; the […]

Chaîne brisée (1936-37): Florent Schmitt’s posthumous tribute to his friend and fellow-composer Paul Dukas.

Living and working as he did throughout the entirety of France’s “Golden Age” of classical music, Florent Schmitt was well-acquainted with all of the significant composers of the day in Paris.  Among the most famous of them — Achille-Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel and Paul Dukas — the latter three were particularly close friends […]

Florent Schmitt and the piano collection à l’Exposition: Musical vignettes of the Paris Exposition of 1937 (La Retardée).

For students of history, the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life — colloquially known as the Paris Exposition of 1937 — is one of those events that’s been the subject of much sociological dissection, seeing as how it was the last great transnational gathering held on the European continent prior to the […]

Israeli pianist and pedagogue Tomer Lev talks about planning and producing the new NAXOS recording of the Tombeau de Claude Debussy (1920) complete anthology.

“What stands out in Schmitt’s work is the hypnotic-impressionist atmosphere, verging on the surreal. Both the atmospherics and the piano writing … hint very strongly at Debussy’s own aesthetic world.  It creates a kind of spiritual dialogue that Schmitt conducts with his late older colleague.” — Tomer Lev, pianist and pedagogue In late 2020, NAXOS […]

Scottish composer Alistair Hinton talks about the influential artistry of Florent Schmitt.

“Florent Schmitt’s artistic legacy is of such importance that his work deserves all the exposure it can get. Once it has done so, it’s no exaggeration to say that the history of French music in the 20th century will have been rewritten.” — Alistair Hinton, composer and music scholar One of Florent Schmitt’s most ardent […]

Florent Schmitt takes a breather: Petites musiques for solo piano (1906).

Within the extensive catalogue of compositions by Florent Schmitt are a great many works for piano – including solo, duet and duo-pianist pieces. Most of this output dates from the composer’s early years of creativity from about 1890 to the mid-1920s, although several additional sets of solo piano pieces would be published in the runup […]

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 […]

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 and performers. 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 […]

Simplicity, elegance and wit for the small fry: 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 […]

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 […]