Florent Schmitt: The Composer Interviewed


Florent Schmitt

Florent Schmitt, photographed in the 1950s at the time he was asked to participate in several interviews about his life and career as a composer and musician dating back to the early 1900s.

Courtesy of several audio archives in Paris, music-lovers now have access to several interviews of Florent Schmitt, conducted towards the end of his long career as a composer.

Since the interviews were conducted in French, the major points Schmitt made are summarized in the articles below for the benefit of non-French language speakers.  The articles also provide YouTube links to hear the audio of the actual interviews.

Florent Schmitt interviewed by Georges Charbonnier at the studios of the ORTF (1954)

Florent Schmitt interviewed by Bernard Gavoty at the Jeunesses Musicales de France (1956)

These first-person documents, which provide direct historical links to France’s Golden Age of classical music, are extremely rare — which is what makes it even more gratifying when they come to light.

Of further interest is video footage of Florent Schmitt filmed at the composer’s home in St-Cloud, probably in the early or mid-1950s.  This short clip is the only such documentation I have ever seen — and likewise represents a link with music history.

Rare color film footage of Schmitt in his later years also survives — some of which appears in a documentary film about the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, with whom Schmitt enjoyed a particularly long and fruitful professional and personal relationship.  In that film, you can view a street scene of Schmitt and Villa-Lobos together, beginning at minute-marker 11:11:10.

Special thanks are due to Franco-American conductor David Grandis, musicologist and author Nicolas Southon, plus musician and audio specialist Peter Joelson for their efforts in finding, preparing and uploading these invaluable in-person interviews for the benefit of a new generation of music-lovers.