Quiet intensity and moving moderation: Messe en quatre parties, Florent Schmitt’s final composition (1958).

Many music-lovers I know are under the mistaken impression that Florent Schmitt’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 137 was the last piece the composer created.  It’s a reasonable supposition because the Symphony received its premiere performance in Strasbourg on June 15, 1958, by the French National Radio Orchestra under the direction of Charles Munch, just two […]

Musicians of the Scarab Club Chamber Music Series Talk About Preparing and Performing Florent Schmitt’s Quartet Pour presque tous les temps (1956).

On October 7, 2018, Detroit’s Scarab Club Chamber Music Series launched its 21st season with a performance of Florent Schmitt’s quartet Pour presque tous les temps, Op. 134 (“Quartet for Almost All the Time”), a late-career work for flute, violin, cello and piano created by Schmitt in 1956 when the composer was 86 years old. […]

Paul Paray: The conductor who popularized Florent Schmitt’s ballet La Tragédie de Salomé (1907/10) for half a century.

Music history tells us that the French conductor Paul Paray (1886-1979) gave more first performances of Florent Schmitt’s compositions than any other director. Indeed, Maestro Paray premiered nearly a dozen of the composer’s creations spanning more than a quarter-century, including the following works: Trois rapsodies, Op. 53, January 29, 1928 Cinq motets, Op. 60, January 21, 1934 In Memoriam, Op. 72, […]

Exploring dance forms down through the ages: Florent Schmitt’s Trois danses (1935).

Florent Schmitt’s two instruments were the flute and the piano. Arguably the piano was the one he preferred most — at least based on the quantity of music he created — for within the catalogue of Schmitt’s compositions are vast swaths of music written for the piano solo, piano duet and duo. The large majority of these […]

French actor and narrator Vincent Figuri talks about resurrecting and recording the full version of Florent Schmitt’s Fonctionnaire MCMXII (1923) with narration.

In the late 1980s the first and only commercial recording of Florent Schmitt’s intriguing composition Fonctionnaire MCMXII, Op. 74 (Functionary #1,912) was released on the Cybelia label, featuring the Rhenish State Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by James Lockhart. Schmitt published this symphonic picture 1923, and it received its premiere performance at the Lamoureux Concerts in 1924, conducted […]

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 […]

French conductor Fabien Gabel talks about Florent Schmitt’s Ronde burlesque (1927) … and why he champions the music of this composer around the world.

Fabien Gabel is one of France’s leading conductors of the younger generation, with an international career. He has been music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec since 2012, and this year was also named music director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes, succeeding David Zinman.  In addition, he guest-conducts regularly in the United States and major […]

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 […]

Beyond Salomé: Florent Schmitt’s Other Biblical Ballet (Danse d’Abisag — 1925)

One of the lesser known of Florent Schmitt’s “orientalist” works is Danse d’Abisag, Opus 75.  This work, which was composed in 1925, began life as a choreographic work but soon migrated to the concert hall. In creating the orientalist works upon which so much of his fame rests, Schmitt derived inspiration from historical, biblical and fictional events.  Danse […]

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 […]

Brilliance and Sophistication: Florent Schmitt’s Trois Rapsodies for Two Pianos (1903-04)

One of the most satisfying of Florent Schmitt’s extensive trove of music for piano duet and duo – and the one that is my personal favorite of all of them – is Trois Rapsodies, Op. 53, a work he composed in 1903-4. Made up of three movements titled Française, Polonaise and Viennoise, it is a work that fully engages […]

Introït, récit et congé: Florent Schmitt’s tour de force for cello and orchestra (1948).

Over his seven decades-long composing career, Florent Schmitt would pen three concertante works for cello. The early Chant élégiaque (from 1899-1903) seems clearly influenced by Schmitt’s teacher and mentor, Gabriel Fauré, who had composed his own Elegy for Cello & Orchestra in the 1880s. The 1932 Final for Cello & Orchestra comes from Schmitt’s middle period of […]

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 […]

L’Eventail de Jeanne: When Florent Schmitt teamed up with his compatriots to create an “omnibus” ballet (1927).

Throughout classical music history, “omnibus” compositions have been rather rare – and for the most part, they’ve been forgotten shortly after their celebrated premieres. Perhaps the earliest one of these interesting concoctions that has at least remained on the fringes of the repertoire is Hexameron — a morceau de concert put together in the late […]

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 […]