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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Dionysiaques Around the World: Celebrating 100 Years of Florent Schmitt’s Masterpiece for Concert Band (1913-2013)

Dionysiaques, Op. 62 is unquestionably Florent Schmitt’s most famous work for wind ensemble.  It was composed exactly 100 years ago, but it would take decades for this 11-minute tour de force to become part of the core repertoire of concert bands. First in France … then in Europe and the United States and now in the […]

Florent Schmitt and the French Fascination with Edgar Allan Poe: Le Palais hanté (1904)

What is it in the French psyche that makes so many of its people attracted to the “dark side” in literature? Whether it’s the symbolists like Maurice Maeterlinck and Paul Verlaine, the noir novels of David Goodis or the dissolute stories and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (as translated masterfully by Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane […]

Florent Schmitt and the Saxophone

The saxophone has always held a tenuous position in the symphony orchestra. Perhaps because of its relatively late invention (around 1845), it’s never really become a full-fledged part of the wind section. Undoubtedly too, some composers have found the saxophone’s sonorities to be better suited for wind ensembles and pop bands than for classical music. But if […]

The Intimate Florent Schmitt

For music-lovers who know Florent Schmitt’s big orchestral works, it might be surprising to learn that the composer also wrote many pieces for solo instruments and chamber ensembles. There is a vast trove of music for solo and duo-piano, and some of these are the beneficiary of fine recordings made recently by pianists like Vincent Larderet, […]