American cellist Elisa Kohanski talks about Florent Schmitt’s Chant élégiaque (1899-1903) and its debt to Gabriel Fauré’s Élégie.

Over a composing career of seven decades, Florent Schmitt would pen music featuring nearly every instrument of the symphony orchestra in a solo capacity. The cello was no exception. In fact, Schmitt composed three concertante pieces featuring the cello — one each during his early, middle and late period of creativity.  The earliest of the […]

In Memoriam: Florent Schmitt’s tribute to his teacher and mentor Gabriel Fauré (1922-35).

During his time as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, Florent Schmitt had his share of esteemed teachers including Jules Massenet, Théodore Dubois, André Gédalge and Albert Lavignac. But Gabriel Fauré, who along with Massenet were Schmitt’s two instructors in composition, was his favorite teacher and also arguably the most influential one. Time and again, we can hear […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Delightful Discourses: Florent Schmitt’s Á 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: Á Tour d’anches, Opus 97 dating from […]

Florent Schmitt and the Organ

One of Florent Schmitt’s most famous and popular compositions is his monumental choral work Psaume XLVII, Opus 38.  Composed in 1904, it is one of the most striking choral works of the 20th Century — or of any era in classical music. Music lovers who are familiar with this work know how important the organ is in Schmitt’s […]