Scènes de la vie moyenne (1950): Florent Schmitt’s late-career work for orchestra.

During the latter years of Florent Schmitt’s long and illustrious career, the composer turned his creative talents increasingly toward music for scored small instrumental forces.  Among the notable achievements of this late creative period are the fascinating (and challenging) String Trio (1944) and String Quartet (1948), as well as a group of compositions that showcase […]

Florent Schmitt’s affectionate tribute to Frédéric Chopin: Le Chant de la nuit (1949/51).

Recently, audio documentation one of Florent Schmitt’s most interesting (and elusive) choral compositions has emerged – and it’s come from an unlikely source.  It is a 1987 live performance of Schmitt’s Le Chant de la nuit, Op. 120, a work that carries the subtitle Ode à Frédéric Chopin.  The performance is by the Chiba University […]

Florent Schmitt’s strikingly inventive Quartet for Trombones and Tuba (1946): Leaving the ‘oompah’ behind.

It’s quite likely that many music-lovers who know of French composer Florent Schmitt are most familiar with his “big” pieces scored for large orchestral forces, overlaid with sparkling orchestration in the grandest post-Rimsky tradition.  And it’s true that many of Schmitt’s best-known works are just those kinds of compositions — pieces like La Tragédie de Salomé, […]

Diverse winds: Florent Schmitt’s late-career quintet Chants alizés (1951-55).

In his later period of creation, French composer Florent Schmitt would turn to the sonorities of wind instruments for a goodly number of his creations. This may seem surprising for an artist who had made his reputation on his numerous “big orchestra” compositions along with a noteworthy collection of “orientalist” creations.  But if we recall […]

Contrasting voices: Florent Schmitt’s a cappella masterpiece A contre-voix (1944).

Within the vast catalogue of music created by the French composer Florent Schmitt are a great number of vocal compositions. Indeed, throughout his 70+ year composing career, Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice — writing works for solo voice as well as for chorus. The choral pieces are particularly interesting in […]

Fascinating, complex sonorities: Florent Schmitt’s String Trio (1944).

“So dense, so many notes, so many double-stops. So hard to play in tune together, so tricky to balance and to make it sound natural.  But what special notes they are!”    — Michiel Weidner, Prisma String Trio In the latter part of his career, the French composer Florent Schmitt turned his attention to musical […]

Substance as well as style: The Quartet for Strings (1948) of Florent Schmitt.

During the extraordinarily long musical career of Florent Schmitt — which spanned 70 years from the late 1880s to the late 1950s — the composer created works for many combinations of instruments. Early on, there were vast swaths of piano music. Then came the sumptuous orchestral creations between 1900 and the onset of World War […]

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 […]

Made for the stage: The incredible life and career of dancer and dramatic actress Ida Rubinstein … and her 20-year collaboration with French composer Florent Schmitt.

“A sphinx, an enigmatic being … nature steeped in demanding contradictions and seductive by that very fact … she seemed to come from another world — one where she would have been despotically sovereign.” — René Dumesnil, from a tribute article published in Le Monde, October 25, 1960 In every era, there are always a […]

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 […]

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

“Years go by without depriving this musical monument of its nobility and power.  On the contrary, it seems to shine with brighter radiance than when it was new.” — René Dumesnil, music critic, Le Monde When Florent Schmitt’s monumental score Psaume XLVII was premiered in December 1906, it burst upon the Parisian music scene in […]

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 “Regarding the Psaume, what can we say that hasn’t already been said […]

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 […]