Florent Schmitt

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Florent Schmitt, 1900

Florent Schmitt (born September 28, 1870 in Blâmont , † August 17, 1958 in Neuilly-sur-Seine ) was a French composer .


Schmitt studied at the Conservatoire de Paris with Albert Lavignac , André Gedalge , Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré . He made friends with his fellow student Maurice Ravel . In 1900 Schmitt won the Prix ​​de Rome with the cantata Sémiramis . He traveled through Europe and the Middle East. From 1922 to 1924 he taught harmony at the Lyon Conservatory and from 1929 to 1939 he worked as a music editor for the daily Le Temps . From 1936 onwards, Schmitt was a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts as successor to Paul Dukas . In 1957 he was awarded the Great Music Prize of the City of Paris .

Schmitt's catalog of works includes 138 opus numbers and well over twenty unpublished compositions. His works include all musical genres except opera and operetta. In the first two decades of the 20th century he was one of the leading composers in France. In particular, Psaume XLVII op.38 , Le Palais hanté op.49 , La Tragédie de Salomé op.50 and the piano quintet op.51 were highly modern in their advanced harmony , rhythm and metrics , their strong expressiveness and masterful instrumentation and took later innovations by Stravinsky and Messiaen in advance. Florent Schmitt was therefore a thoroughly progressive composer until the end of the First World War. His works initiated a gradual detachment from the dominance of French Impressionism . But at the same time he was an eminent individualist who was apparently completely unaffected by the countless changes of direction and trends of the twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. So over the decades, especially after the Second World War, despite the extraordinarily high quality of his works, he was sidelined in French and international musical life.

What is remarkable about Schmitt's oeuvre is, on the one hand, that, despite all the modernisms that characterized his works in the first two decades of the 20th century, he clung to the musical forms of the 19th century, and on the other hand, those that were unusually deep for a French composer of this era rooted connection to German Romanticism ( Brahms , Schumann ) and late Romanticism ( Wagner and Strauss ). The latter is particularly evident in his nuanced, polyphonic instrumental movement.

His oeuvre contains at least 8 sacred vocal works in a wide variety of formations from a cappella to gigantic orchestration, as well as about as much secular vocal music. There are also about 7 cantatas, about as many vocal ensembles, many songs, various stage works (ballet and stage music), a great deal of piano music and a series of symphonic works based on the late romantic concept of symphonic poetry . Something similar in chamber music, which is abundant. He also wrote at least two works for violoncello and orchestra opp. 77 and 113, a Symphonie concertante for piano and orchestra op.82 and a legend for alto saxophone (or viola) and orchestra op.66.

Anti-Semite and supporter of German National Socialism

Florent Schmitt was an anti-Semite and a supporter of German National Socialism. This is also evidenced by the incident of November 26, 1933 in the Salle Pleyel in Paris: During a concert in which three songs from Weill's “Der Silbersee” were performed in addition to Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and R. Strauss, Schmitt shouted “Vive Hitler! "And" Enough with the music of German emigrants! "Significantly, the audience had just requested the repetition of the ballad" Caesar's Death ", which was an allusion to Hitler (" Caesar wanted to rule with the sword and a knife fell him. " ). Organized Nazi riots had already broken out there when “Der Silbersee” was premiered in Leipzig, Erfurt and Magdeburg (February 18, 1933), and Kurt Weill fled to Paris on March 21, 1933. The Simon Wiesenthal Center also unearthed incriminations against Florent Schmitt. Schmitt, there could be no longer any doubt, was not only a master of complex tone sequences and bold rhythms. He was also a man who was connected to the National Socialists and valued by them, who, under the Vichy regime, became the second honorary president of an orchestra with the meaningful name 'Collaboration'. This is what was later called the collaboration between the French and the German National Socialists. This mindset seems comparable to that of the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline or Ezra Pound , who, despite their sympathy for National Socialism and fascism, were representatives of modernity .

Works (selection)

Sacred choral music

  • Psaume 47 for soprano, mixed choir, organ and orchestra, 1904

Works for orchestra

  • En été for orchestra, 1894
  • Musique de Plein Air for orchestra, 1897–1904
  • Combat des Raksasas et Délivrance de Sitâ , symphonic poem for orchestra, 1898
  • Rhapsodie Parisienne for orchestra, 1898
  • Quatre Pièces for orchestra, 1899
  • Le Palais Hanté , Symphonic Study for Orchestra, 1900–04
  • Trois Rhapsodies for orchestra, 1903/04
  • Feuillets de Voyage for orchestra, 1903–13
  • Reflets d 'Allemagne for orchestra, 1905
  • Pupazzi - Eight Pieces for Orchestra, 1907
  • La Tragédie de Salomé , ballet, 1907
  • La Tragédie de Salomé , Symphonic Suite, 1910
  • Rêves for orchestra, 1913–15
  • Chant d'Espérance des Bleus , 1916
  • Legend for saxophone or viola or violin and orchestra, 1918
  • Antoine et Cléopâtre , Six symphonic episodes after William Shakespeare , 1919/20
  • Antoine et Cléopâtre , incidental music for orchestra, 1919/20
  • In Memoriam for orchestra, 1922
  • Mirages for orchestra, 1923
  • Le Petit Elfe Ferme-l'Oeil , ballet, 1923
  • Danse d'abisag , 1925
  • Salammbô , Six symphonic episodes after Gustave Flaubert , 1926
  • Ronde Burlesque for orchestra, 1927
  • Cancunik , Suite for Orchestra, 1927
  • Reflets , ballet, 1932
  • Oriane et le Prince d'Amour , ballet, 1932/33
  • Oriane la Sans-Égale , suite for orchestra, 1934
  • Chaîne Brisée for orchestra, 1936
  • Suite sans Esprit de Suite for orchestra, 1937
  • Janiana , Symphony for String Orchestra, 1941
  • Scènes de la Vie Moyenne , 1950
  • Jardin Secret , ballet, 1953
  • 2nd Symphony , 1956–58

Film music

  • 1924: Fonctionnaire MCMXII
  • 1925: Salambo
  • 1943: Essais de Locomotives

Chamber music

  • Quintet for 2 'violins, viola, cello and piano op. 51 (1901–1908)
  • Sonate libre en deux parties for violin and piano op.68 (1918/19)
  • String Trio op.105 (1944–1946)
  • Quatour de flûtes (Flute Quartet) op.106 (1944) (printed 1949)
  • String Quartet in G sharp, op.112 (1947)
  • Quatuor pour presque tous les temps for violin, cello, flute and piano op.134 (1956)
  • Suite op.133 en trois parties for trumpet and piano (1955)
  • Quatuor pour Saxophones opus 102 (printed 1948)
  • Sonatine en trio for flute, clarinet and piano

Works for wind orchestra

  • 1900–1906: Sélamlik - Turkish divertissement for wind orchestra
  • 1913–1914: Dionysiaques , symphonic poem for wind orchestra


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Kurt Weill: Speak softly when you say love. The correspondence between Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. Edited and translated by Lys Symonette and Kim H. Kowalke. Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 1998, p. 114; David Farneth with Elmar Juchem and Dave Stein: Kurt Weill. A life in pictures and documents. Berlin: Ullstein 2000, p. 158
  2. Berliner Zeitung of January 14, 2014
  3. Complete catalog of works