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 […]

Beyond Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s Other Biblical Ballet (Danse d’Abisag — 1925)

One of the lesser known of Florent Schmitt’s “orientalist” works is Danse d’Abisag, Opus 75.  This work, which was composed in 1925, began life as a choreographic work but soon migrated to the concert hall. In creating the orientalist works upon which so much of his fame rests, Schmitt derived inspiration from historical, biblical and fictional events.  Danse […]

Florent Schmitt’s early art songs: A trove of treasures awaits rediscovery.

Recently, the INA archives (French National Radio and Television) has begun offering for download a memorial concert held in honor of Florent Schmitt.  The concert, which was broadcast in October 1958 two months following the composer’s death, has never been made available since its initial airing until now. The memorial program featured five works by Schmitt including […]

Choral chromaticism par excellence: Florent Schmitt’s Cinq chœurs en vingt minutes for mixed chorus and large orchestra (1951).

Within the extensive catalogue of Florent Schmitt’s compositions are a great many vocal works — pieces written for solo voice or for chorus.  In fact, there are over 50 such opus numbers. Many of Schmitt’s choral works are based on sacred texts, although often the scores seem quite removed from a sense of piety.  Perhaps the best-known example of […]

Florent Schmitt’s Best-Known Early Composition: Soirs (1890-96)

Generally speaking, music lovers who know the works of French composer Florent Schmitt are most familiar with his compositions dating from the early 1900s onward. Far less known are the numerous works the composer created in the years before the appearance of the startling and celebrated Psaume XLVII, which Schmitt composed in 1904 in Rome and which received its premiered in […]

Members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Talk about Preparing Florent Schmitt’s Music for Performance and Recording

In February and March 2015, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its music director, JoAnn Falletta, performed and recorded two of Florent Schmitt’s orchestral works:  the 1900-04 symphonic etude Le Palais hanté, Opus 49 (The Haunted Palace), inspired by a poem of Edgar Allan Poe; and the two Antoine et Cléopâtre Suites, Opus 69, composed in 1920 […]

American orchestra conductor JoAnn Falletta talks about performing and recording the music of Florent Schmitt (Antoine et Cléopâtre and Le Palais hanté).

Recorded in March 2015 by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the pieces are slated for release on the NAXOS label later this year. Under its music director JoAnn Falletta, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has established something of a reputation for programming neglected scores from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including performances in recent years of works […]

Just announced: The premiere recording of Florent Schmitt’s own version of Ombres for piano and orchestra, featuring French pianist Vincent Larderet, soon to be released.

  While the French composer Florent Schmitt wrote vast quantities of music for solo and duo-pianists, the concertante pieces he composed for piano and orchestra are few. In fact, there are just two of them. One is the Symphonie Concertante, a daringly modern work Schmitt composed in 1931 on commission from Serge Koussevitzky and the […]

Florent Schmitt and Igor Stravinsky: A Consequential Musical Relationship

Throughout his long life and composing career, Florent Schmitt would forge many personal friendships with his counterparts.  He was at the center of musical life in Paris, maintaining particularly close relationships with Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Gabriel Pierné, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré, Guillaume Lekeu and numerous other French composers. He also had decades-long friendships with composers from other […]

Spirit of the Dance: Florent Schmitt’s Suite sans esprit de suite (1937-38)

In the last two decades of his long life and extensive musical career, the composer Florent Schmitt would devote much of his energies to creating instrumental music and pieces for voice and choir. Indeed, by and large Schmitt’s later-career output eschewed the full orchestra — with a number of notable exceptions, among them the Introït, récit et congé […]

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 […]

Florent Schmitt and Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Friendship Over Five Decades

The cover story in the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Journal, published in October 2014, focuses on the half-century friendship between the French composer Florent Schmitt and his English counterpart. The two composers were near contemporaries of one another — Schmitt was older by two years — and they died within mere days of each other in […]

Delightful Discourses: Florent Schmitt’s A Tour d’anches for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano (1939-43)

In his later career, the French composer Florent Schmitt would devote more of his energies to composing works for chamber wind ensemble.  Among those works are his quartets for saxophones, flutes, trombones and tuba, and a sextet for clarinets. But Schmitt also composed two highly engaging chamber pieces for diverse winds: A Tour d’anches, Opus 97 […]

American violinist John McLaughlin Williams talks about the music of Florent Schmitt and the Sonate libre (1918-19).

“In the 20th century, France was unusually blessed with composers who can be called ‘great’ without question or compromise. It’s arguable that they could be listed with a certain linearity. Debussy, Schmitt, Ravel, Messiaen, Dutilleux; when I think of their music it seems clear to me that they were listening to each other, and those […]

Freshness and vitality win the day: An award-winning performance of Florent Schmitt’s 1956 quartet Pour presque tous les temps at the 2014 NZCT Chamber Music Contest in New Zealand.

One of the most charming late works of Florent Schmitt is his quartet for flute, violin, cello and piano he titled Pour presque tous les temps, Opus 134 (“Quartet for Almost All the Time”). Composed in 1956 for the Quatuor Instrumental de Paris, this four-movement work lasts barely 12 minutes, but is one of the most engaging pieces […]