Music critics at France-Musique evaluate current recordings of Florent Schmitt’s ballet La Tragédie de Salomé (1907/10).

Their designation of Paul Paray’s classic reading with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as the best overall recording is echoed by France-Musique’s listener audience. As part of its popular broadcast series La Tribune des critiques de disques, in October 2017 the French national public radio channel France-Musique aired a two-hour program in which a roundtable panel of eminent […]

Experiencing Florent Schmitt’s Symphony No. 2 (1957) in concert: An eyewitness report from London.

On October 27, 2017, Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra presented Florent Schmitt’s Symphony No. 2, Opus 137 — the composer’s final orchestral work, which was completed in 1957 when Schmitt was 87 years old. This performance at the Barbican in London was the first time the Symphony No. 2 had been presented in concert […]

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 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 part […]

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 […]

Powerful Sounds: The Seven Commercial Recordings of Florent Schmitt’s Psaume 47 (1904)

There is little question that Florent Schmitt’s Psaume XLVII, Op. 38, composed in 1904,  is one of the most powerful compositions in the choral repertoire. Indeed, the forces called for in this music — large chorus, large orchestra, soprano solo and organ — make it nearly unique in the French repertoire.  When it had its premiere in […]

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 […]

La Tragédie de Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s most famous composition … 15 commercial recordings and counting.

Without question, La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 is Florent Schmitt’s most famous composition.  Composed in 1907 and revised in 1910, this ballet is far more often performed as a symphonic suite these days (although the Mariinsky Ballet revived the stage version in 2013). The composition became famous from the very start – recognized by […]

Oriane et le Prince d’Amour: Florent Schmitt’s Final ‘Orientalist’ Composition (1933)

One of the most memorable aspects of French composer Florent Schmitt’s musical output is his artistic work in the “orientalist” realm.  In fact, in this aspect it could be claimed with some justification that Schmitt had no peer, notwithstanding the efforts of other fine composers in France (Saint-Saens, Bizet, Lalo, d’Indy, Roussel, Rabaud, Ravel, Delage, Aubert, etc.) and elsewhere […]

The Influence of Florent Schmitt’s Psaume XLVII (1904) on Other French Composers

When Florent Schmitt’s monumental score Psaume XLVII was premiered in December 1906, it burst upon the Parisian music scene in a big way. Nothing this grandiose had been heard outside the opera house since the days of Berlioz. The French poet and essayist Léon-Paul Fargue echoed the sentiments of many when he wrote of the Psalm: […]

Psalm XLVII: Florent Schmitt’s Astounding Choral Masterpiece (1904)

“… An extravagant outburst of highly perfumed Franco-exoticism at its most virile, heroic and exalted … I can’t think of another piece that achieves — or even attempts — quite the impact made by this work.” — Walter Simmons, Music Critic, Fanfare Magazine “If you conduct just one French choral work in your career, it […]

Florent Schmitt’s Valedictory Composition: Symphony No. 2 (1957)

Here we have it, ladies and gentlemen: France’s missing symphony from the 1950s … It is almost impossibly beautiful, with some of the most kaleidoscopic sound-staging and effective bass sonorities you will encounter. Florent Schmitt’s Second Symphony was never precisely lost, to be sure. It’s actually the Francophone 50s which seemed to disappear and turn […]