Hallucinatory Atmospherics: Florent Schmitt’s Rêves (1915)

Sprinkled throughout the catalogue of Florent Schmitt’s compositions are a goodly number of shorter orchestral pieces. They range in their moods from contemplative to joyous to stormy. One of these orchestral miniatures that I find particularly compelling is Rêves, Op. 65 (Dreams), a work that Schmitt began composing in 1913.  He prepared a piano version […]

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 […]

Film music specialist Doug Adams talks about Florent Schmitt’s Salammbô (1925) and other music scores from the silent film era.

One of the world’s leading journalists and authors on film music gives Schmitt’s score pride of place in the first quarter century of motion pictures. Among the most intriguing entries in the catalogue of Florent Schmitt’s compositions are the three suites he extracted from his score to the silent film Salammbô, which was premiered at the […]

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra announces the North American premiere concert performances of Florent Schmitt’s complete Antoine et Cléopâtre Suites — 95 years following their composition.

Le Palais hanté is also planned for performance and recording. North American classical music lovers are in for a treat this coming orchestra season.  The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that its 2014-15 concert schedule includes the first performances in North America of Florent Schmitt’s complete Antoine et Cléopâtre Suites, Op. 69. The performances of this […]

Forgotten Records: Resurrecting noteworthy recordings of Florent Schmitt’s music from the LP era.

There’s no question that in the past two decades, the breadth and depth of French composer Florent Schmitt’s music that has made it to the microphones has increased dramatically. Nearly every year, we are treated to world premiere recordings of more Schmitt works. The most recent examples are the complete works for piano duo and duet as […]

A Surprising Collaboration and Friendship: Florent Schmitt and Frederick Delius (1894-1934)

One interesting yet virtually unknown early chapter in Florent Schmitt’s musical life involved the work he did in creating the piano/vocal reduction scores of the first four operas of the English composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934). These efforts began around 1894 when Schmitt was not yet 25 years old, with the transcription of Delius’ opera Irmelin.  The […]

Brilliance and Sophistication: Florent Schmitt’s Trois Rapsodies for Two Pianos (1903-04)

One of the most satisfying of Florent Schmitt’s extensive trove of music for piano duet and duo – and the one that is my personal favorite of all of them – is Trois Rapsodies, Op. 53, a work he composed in 1903-4. Made up of three movements titled Française, Polonaise and Viennoise, it is a work that fully engages […]

French Cellist Henri Demarquette talks about the Music of Florent Schmitt and the Introït, récit et congé (1948).

The recent release of the premiere recording of Florent Schmitt’s Introït, récit et congé, Op. 113, has given lovers of French music and cello music in general the opportunity to hear an interesting and inventive concertante piece that was composed in 1948 for the French cellist André Navarra. Fortunately, this premiere recording (on the Timpani label) […]

“Pure Music Masterpiece”: Florent Schmitt’s Sonate libre for Violin and Piano (1918-19).

Within Florent Schmitt’s musical output are a half-dozen works that feature the violin.  Perhaps the most significant of them is his Sonate libre, Op. 68, a work he composed in 1918-19 at Artiguemy, his country retreat in the Hautes-Pyrenees. The formal title of the music is a real mouthful:  Sonate libre en deux parties enchaînées, ad modem Clementis […]

Introït, récit et congé: Florent Schmitt’s tour de force for cello and orchestra (1948).

Over his seven decades-long composing career, Florent Schmitt would pen three concertante works for cello. The early Chant élégiaque (from 1899-1903) seems clearly influenced by Schmitt’s teacher and mentor, Gabriel Fauré, who had composed his own Elegy for Cello & Orchestra in the 1880s. The 1932 Final for Cello & Orchestra comes from Schmitt’s middle period of […]

Voluptuous Colors: Florent Schmitt’s Suite for Trumpet (1955)

Over his long composing career, Florent Schmitt wrote numerous concertante pieces showcasing nearly every instrument of the orchestra. As with a good number of other French composers, some of these works were written as examination pieces for students at the Paris Conservatoire. A representative example is Schmitt’s Suite en trois parties for Trumpet & Piano, Op. […]

Spanish flautist Roberto Casado talks about Florent Schmitt’s Sonatine en Trio and Suite en rocaille – and their place in French Impressionistic music.

The Spanish flautist and chamber musician Roberto Casado discovered the music of Florent Schmitt as part of a quest to find new repertoire pieces in the French Impressionist tradition. His goal was to find scores that weren’t derivative, but instead contained interesting touches that distinguished them from the well-known works of Ravel and Debussy. This mission […]

Excitement on steroids: Seven live concert recordings of Florent Schmitt’s blockbuster choral composition Psalm 47 (1904)

For many classical music lovers, nothing can compare to a live performance.  While studio recordings promise greater precision and better sound quality — along with avoiding distracting audience noise – often this comes at the expense of spontaneity and immediacy. And for a piece of music as viscerally thrilling as Florent Schmitt’s Psalm XLVII, Op. 38, composed […]

Originality, Eclecticism … and Female Voices: Florent Schmitt’s Six Chœurs (1931).

Music lovers who know Florent Schmitt’s stunning Psaume XLVII (1904) might wonder what other choral music may have come from the composer’s pen. And in fact, there are nearly 25 individual choral scores written by Schmitt, composed over more than a half-century’s time. None of them are nearly as famous as the Psalm, but they […]