Hymne à l’eté: Florent Schmitt’s deliriously ecstatic a cappella choral composition for eight-part mixed choir and soloists (1913).

Vocal music comprises an important component of Florent Schmitt’s catalogue of works.  Throughout his long career the composer would return again and again to the human voice, creating many sets of songs along with a wide range of secular and sacred choral music. One of the most intriguing of these works is the a cappella […]

Stretching tonality to the breaking point: Florent Schmitt’s weird and daring Kérob-Shal (1919-24).

Even before the onset of World War I, Florent Schmitt was already known as a pathfinding composer.  Indeed, such works as Psaume XLVII (1904), La Tragédie de Salomé (1907) and the Piano Quintet (1908) had already cemented his reputation as one of the most influential voices among his generation of French composers. But it was during […]

“White-haired, bearded and thoroughly charming”: American contralto Rita Sebastian’s remembrances of performing with Florent Schmitt at Town Hall in New York City (1932).

One of the serendipitous aspects of music history is coming across rare and precious documents that have remained hidden for decades.  Such an occurrence happened this past summer when JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, received a package in the mail containing a collection of documents pertaining to a recital given by […]

Florent Schmitt’s Quatre lieds (1912): Dark colors and wistful sonorities depicting cryptic, fathomless poetry.

Throughout his lengthy career as a composer, Florent Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice when creating his compositions.  Although Schmitt distanced himself from operatic projects (he created no operas of his own although he  prepared piano-reduction scores of several of Frederick Delius’ operatic scores), Schmitt lavished attention on sorts of other […]

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, […]

French author Emmanuel Jourquin-Bourgeois talks about the life of his grandfather, Pierre Bourgeois, and his consequential tenure as head of Pathé-Marconi during the 1950s.

Recently, several photos were uploaded to Twitter that had been taken at a social event in Paris celebrating the release of the first-ever commercial recording of Florent Schmitt’s stunning choral composition Psaume XLVII.  Held in February 1953 at Pathé-Marconi headquarters, the event was attended by tout Paris – at least in terms of the classical […]

Simplicity meets virtuosity: Florent Schmitt’s a cappella vocal masterpiece En bonnes voix (1938).

Throughout his extraordinarily long and productive life, the French composer Florent Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice.  His earliest catalogued compositions dating from the 1880s were various mélodies, and his final work was the Messe en quatres parties for mixed chorus and organ, completed just a few months before his death […]

JoAnn Falletta’s Buffalo Philharmonic recording of Florent Schmitt’s orchestral music wins the prestigious Diapason d’Or.

The 2020 NAXOS recording, completed just days before the COVID pandemic shuttered classical music performances across the globe, includes two colorful ballet scores along with two world premieres. Since its November 2020 release during Florent Schmitt’s 150th birthday anniversary year, the NAXOS recording of four orchestral works by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under its music […]

Investigating the mystery – and promise – of Florent Schmitt’s “Poèmes des lacs” (Les Barques, Demande, Musique sur l’eau, Soir sur le lac, Tristesse au jardin — 1897-1901)

Recently, two documents have emerged that point to the existence of a long-forgotten grouping of Florent Schmitt’s mélodies that can stand alongside the song cycles of fellow-French composers Henri Duparc, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Maurice Delage and Louis Aubert. The grouping of Florent Schmitt mélodies carries the umbrella title “Poèmes des lacs,” and some details […]

Florent Schmitt’s affectionate tribute to Frédéric Chopin: Le Chant de la nuit (1949/51).

Recently, audio documentation one of Florent Schmitt’s most interesting (and elusive) choral compositions has emerged – and it’s come from an unlikely source.  It is a 1987 live performance of Schmitt’s Le Chant de la nuit, Op. 120, a work that carries the subtitle Ode à Frédéric Chopin.  The performance is by the Chiba University […]

Just released: A new recording of four Florent Schmitt orchestral works with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The new NAXOS release features two iconic ballet suites along with two world premiere recordings. Back in 2015, a recording of the music of Florent Schmitt on the NAXOS label, performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its music director, JoAnn Falletta, was a noteworthy artistic and commercial success.  Today, these same musical forces are […]

Giving vibrant voice to powerful poetry: Florent Schmitt’s Trois Chants (1943).

French composers of the period really knew how to write vocal music.  Composers like Ravel, Debussy and Florent Schmitt were taught how to write for the human voice. — Karina Gauvin, Canadian Soprano How can one composer be so gifted at so much? — JoAnn Falletta, American Orchestra Conductor When one looks at the extensive […]

Florent Schmitt looks to the France of antiquity: Quatre poèmes de Ronsard (1941).

In May 1924, a new edition of the French magazine La Revue musicale hit the newsstands — one that was devoted to the artistic legacy of Pierre de Ronsard, among the most celebrated poets in all of French literary history. The brainchild of Henry Prunières, founder and editorial guiding light of the magazine, the May […]

Pianist Edward Rushton talks about exploring Florent Schmitt’s repertoire of vocal music, and preparing it for performance and recording.

“It’s as though someone said to you: ‘Throw yourself from a fourth floor window — and mind you, fall gracefully.’” — Claire Croiza, French soprano Considering that 2020 marks the 150th birthday anniversary of French composer Florent Schmitt, who lived from 1870 to 1958, it isn’t surprising that the milestone would be marked by the […]

Austrian conductor Gottfried Rabl talks about preparing and presenting the 2020 Romanian premiere performance of Florent Schmitt’s blockbuster choral composition Psalm 47 (1904).

In early March 2020, I had the opportunity to attend what turned out to be the very last public performances of Florent Schmitt’s orchestral before the Coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down classical concerts across the globe. Those concerts, presented by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, were noteworthy not only because the […]