Discovering the man behind the musician: The personal remembrances of French composer Florent Schmitt’s biographer, Yves Hucher (1958).

When the composer Florent Schmitt died in August 1958 at the age of nearly 88 years, many prominent musicians, scholars and journalists wrote words of tribute honoring the last of the “grand generation” of French composers that had included, among others, Debussy, Dukas, Ravel, Roussel, Koechlin, Pierné, Cras, Rabaud, Ropartz and Tournemire. Along those lines, […]

Chant du soir (1895): An early composition by Florent Schmitt comes into its own — 125 years after its creation.

Up until recently, familiarity with the earliest compositions of Florent Schmitt was rather scant.  The composer’s first works were created in the decade leading up to his winning the Prix de Rome first prize for composition in 1900. It was the period after Schmitt had completed his music studies at the conservatory in Nancy and […]

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 […]

Simplicity meets virtuosity: Florent Schmitt’s a cappella vocal masterpiece En bonnes voix (1938).

Throughout his extraordinarily long and productive life, the French composer Florent Schmitt would return again and again to the human voice.  His earliest catalogued compositions dating from the 1880s were various mélodies, and his final work was the Messe en quatres parties for mixed chorus and organ, completed just a few months before his death […]

Just released: A new recording of four Florent Schmitt orchestral works with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The new NAXOS release features two iconic ballet suites along with two world premiere recordings. Back in 2015, a recording of the music of Florent Schmitt on the NAXOS label, performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its music director, JoAnn Falletta, was a noteworthy artistic and commercial success.  Today, these same musical forces are […]

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, […]

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 […]

Arts critic Steven Kruger talks about the music of Florent Schmitt and its place in France’s “Golden Age” of classical music.

One of my favorite critics on the international classical music scene today is Steven Kruger, who is a reviewer for New York Arts and Fanfare magazine.  What is particularly special is Kruger’s way of tying his music criticism to broader cultural and artistic undercurrents, often making fresh and novel connections that go unnoticed by others. […]

Voluptuous Colors: Florent Schmitt’s Suite for Trumpet (1955)

Over his long composing career, Florent Schmitt wrote numerous concertante pieces showcasing nearly every instrument of the orchestra. As with a good number of other French composers, some of these works were written as examination pieces for students at the Paris Conservatoire. A representative example is Schmitt’s Suite en trois parties for Trumpet & Piano, Op. […]

Lied et Scherzo (1910), Florent Schmitt’s Incredible Piece Featuring the French Horn

One of the most interesting works by Florent Schmitt is his Lied et Scherzo, Op. 54, which he composed in 1910. The piece was first conceived as a work for double wind quintet, with one of the French horns acting as soloist throughout. The work was dedicated to Schmitt’s fellow French composer Paul Dukas, who […]

Florent Schmitt’s Valedictory Composition: Symphony No. 2 (1957)

Here we have it, ladies and gentlemen: France’s missing symphony from the 1950s … It is almost impossibly beautiful, with some of the most kaleidoscopic sound-staging and effective bass sonorities you will encounter. Florent Schmitt’s Second Symphony was never precisely lost, to be sure. It’s actually the Francophone 50s which seemed to disappear and turn […]