Florent Schmitt and the piano collection à l’Exposition: Musical vignettes of the Paris Exposition of 1937 (La Retardée).

For students of history, the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life — colloquially known as the Paris Exposition of 1937 — is one of those events that’s been the subject of much sociological dissection, seeing as how it was the last great transnational gathering held on the European continent prior to the […]

Pièces romantiques (1900-08): Florent Schmitt’s “transitional” suite for solo piano.

Throughout his lengthy creative career which spanned more than seven decades from the 1890s to the 1950s, the French composer Florent Schmitt would create vast swaths of piano music. For a composer who possessed considerable pianistic talents of his own, it seems completely fitting that he would do so — and predictably, many of the […]

Infectious elegance and so much more: Florent Schmitt’s Trois valses nocturnes (1901).

French composer Florent Schmitt’s abilities as a pianist were considerable. Even so, he characterized the piano as “a convenient but disappointing substitute for the orchestra.” Taking a look at Schmitt’s piano scores, what’s immediately apparent are the technical demands that are required to do the music justice.  It’s akin to what the French pianist Alfred Cortot famously […]

Musicologist Suddhaseel Sen talks about the artistry of Florent Schmitt and the importance of his orientalist compositions.

Musicologist, author and teacher Suddhaseel Sen comes to his appreciation of Western classical music from an interesting angle. A native of the Indian subcontinent, Dr. Sen made his first musical discoveries there, long before coming to the West for a range of music-related studies and research. Today, Dr. Sen is back in India as Assistant Professor of Humanities […]

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 […]

Dancing Demons and Underwater Airplanes: Florent Schmitt’s Phantasmagorical Ronde burlesque (1927)

Within the catalogue of Florent Schmitt’s compositions are a goodly number of brilliant orchestral showpieces that exploit the colors of the orchestra to the fullest degree. One of the most interesting and effective of these also happens to be one of the shortest — the Ronde burlesque, Opus 78. This piece was composed in 1927 during a time […]

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 […]

One Heck of a Film Score: Florent Schmitt’s Salammbô (1925)

There are a number of indisputably great composers for the film: names like Richard Addinsell, David Raksin and Dimitri Tiomkin. And there are “serious” 20th century composes who also devoted more than a little of their effort and energy to writing for the screen. Erich Wolfgang Korngold comes immediately to mind, although one could also place Serge […]

La Tragédie de Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s Sinuous Temptress, Seducing Audiences for 100 Years

“[It] is like a half-hour visit to the pleasure dome in Xanadu, and if it doesn’t give you a few spiritual orgasms, then perhaps you need to insert Viagra® in each of your ears.” — Raymond Tuttle, Music Critic, Fanfare Magazine The ballet La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 is Florent Schmitt’s most famous and […]