World-Premiere Recordings of Florent Schmitt’s Music for Piano Duet and Duo

As the complete music for piano duet and duo composed by Florent Schmitt continues to be released by the Grand Piano label in its series featuring the Invencia Piano Duo, it’s becoming clear that this is music of immediate appeal … and also of substance. Three of the four planned CDs in the series have now been released in […]

Élizabeth Herbin, French Pianist and Daughter of Composer René Herbin, Talks about the Music of Florent Schmitt and her Father

The French pianist Élizabeth Herbin has long been a champion of the music of her father, the composer René Herbin (1911-1953). This includes making recordings of his music, including one featuring Herbin’s Quartet #1 for Piano & Strings, composed in 1949. That celebrated recording, on the Gallo label, also contains two works by Florent Schmitt: […]

Youthful Exuberance: Lionel Bringuier’s Thrilling Performance of Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé (Stockholm, 2009)

I always suspected that French conductor Lionel Bringuier’s interpretation of Florent Schmitt’s ballet La Tragédie de Salomé, Op. 50 would be something special. After all, this young conductor has been traveling the globe in the past half-decade, performing the work in numerous locations including England, Scandinavia, Germany and the United States (with the Los Angeles Philharmonic). […]

Beyond Dionysiaques: Florent Schmitt’s Other Works for Concert Band

The Dionysiaques by Florent Schmitt, composed exactly a century ago, is a blockbuster work for concert band that just gets more and more popular with each passing year. I’ve blogged before about how this piece has become a staple of the wind band repertoire – particularly in Japan and Europe, but with more performances happening in the United […]

Florent Schmitt’s Intense, Monumental Piano Quintet (1908)

The catalog of music composed by Florent Schmitt contains numerous chamber works. Among them are three large-scale compositions for string ensemble: the Trio, Op. 105, the Quartet, Op. 112, and the Piano Quintet, Op. 51. The Piano Quintet was the first of these three pieces to be created; Schmitt worked on the score for six […]

Available online: Florent Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé, performed live by Alain Altinoglu and the Orchestre de Paris (2012).

The French-Armenian maestro Alain Altinoglu, along with several other younger-generation conductors, have been traveling the globe in recent years performing Florent Schmitt’s ballet score La Tragédie de Salomé. Conductors Stéphane Denève and Yannick Nézet-Séguin have both performed the score in Canada and France, while Lionel Bringuier has brought the Salomé to Los Angeles, Cleveland, Sweden, Finland, […]

Hasards: A Quartet that Illustrates Florent Schmitt’s Highly Interesting Chamber Music Style (1943)

The chamber music pieces of Florent Schmitt are quite interesting and varied. Among them are wonderfully intimate works such as the Sonatine en Trio from 1934 which have a flavor somewhat similar to the chamber works of Schmitt’s compatriots Debussy and Ravel. But there are numerous other Schmitt compositions for chamber players that inhabit a different sound-world – more full-bodied and containing surprising […]

Fonctionnaire MCMXII: Florent Schmitt versus French Civil Servants (1923)

Around the world today, the news is full of stories about bloated government bureaucracies and the inefficiencies of various public agencies. From France and Italy to the United States, there are persistent calls for governments to become leaner and more effective, beginning with eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” from various agencies. But this isn’t a […]

Florent Schmitt’s Mirages: Poignant and Potent Musical Pictures Inspired by Paul Fort and Lord Byron (1920-23)

One of the highly interesting compositions by Florent Schmitt is Mirages, Op. 70. This work exists in two versions: its original piano form composed in 1920/21, and a later orchestration prepared by the composer in 1923 and premiered in 1924 by Schmitt’s friend, the conductor Serge Koussevitzky. I find Mirages to be one of Schmitt’s most compelling […]

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’s Psalm 47: Now available in a 2012 live performance by Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra from the Bard Music Festival.

The latest live concert performance of Florent Schmitt’s monumental Psaume XLVII, Op. 38 is now the newest one to become available for purchase. The American Symphony Orchestra has just released a music download of the August 18, 2012 performance of the Psaume at the Bard Music Festival, with ASO music director (and Schmitt champion) Leon Botstein conducting the […]

Florent Schmitt and the Saxophone (Légende; Saxophone Quartet)

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 […]

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 […]

The intimate Florent Schmitt: Suite en rocaille (1934) and Sonatine en trio (1935).

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, […]

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 […]