Florent Schmitt and the Prix de Rome: 1900-1904 (Musiques de plein air; Le Palais hanté; Psaume XLVII)

In the century-long period from 1850 to 1950, the Prix de Rome prize for composition was probably the single most important and prestigious recognition for any French composer. And for that reason, nearly every important French composer strove to win it. Offered to students at the Paris Conservatoire, winners of the award were rewarded with a handsome stipend, along with a multi-year stay […]

French Pianist Vincent Larderet Talks about Performing and Recording the Music of Florent Schmitt

To say that Vincent Larderet is one of the most accomplished of the younger generation of classical pianists would be an understatement. As a Steinway Artist, Mr. Larderet has attracted international recognition by virtue of the exceptional intensity of his performances and commercial recordings, praised by critics not only in his native France but also in Continental […]

French Soprano Denise Duval: Muse to Francis Poulenc … Friend of Florent Schmitt

A living legend today — well into her nineties — the French soprano Denise Duval is a link to France’s glorious musical past. History remembers her as the famous muse to Francis Poulenc, but Duval was also an important interpreter of the music of other significant French composers of the early- and mid-twentieth century — among […]

The Composer and the Impresario: Florent Schmitt and Felix Aprahamian

Felix Aprahamian (1914-2005) is probably the closest thing to a renaissance man we’ve seen in the 20th Century — at least in the realm of music. Born into an Armenian immigrant mercantile family in London in 1914, he spent his entire life in the service of music, despite having trained for a career in business. […]

Shimmering Brilliance: Florent Schmitt’s Andante et Scherzo for Harp and String Quartet (1903-6)

In the early years of the 20th Century, several French composers would pen some highly interesting compositions that have given harp players some great repertoire items in the ensuing decades. The composers in question were Claude Debussy, André Caplet, Maurice Ravel … and Florent Schmitt.  And the instigation was the arrival of the chromatic harp on […]

Florent Schmitt’s Mirages: Poignant and Potent Musical Pictures Inspired by Paul Fort and Lord Byron (1920-23)

One of the highly interesting compositions by Florent Schmitt is Mirages, Op. 70. This work exists in two versions: its original piano form composed in 1920/21, and a later orchestration prepared by the composer in 1923 and premiered in 1924 by Schmitt’s friend, the conductor Serge Koussevitzky. I find Mirages to be one of Schmitt’s most compelling […]