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French composer and music critic Florent Schmitt was born at Blamont, Meurthe-et-Moselle on 28 September 1870 and studied with Gustave Sandré in Nancy and then at the Paris Conservatoire with Théodore Dubois, Gabriel Fauré, Albert Lavignac and Jules Massenet. Whilst in his twenties, Schmidt became friends with Frederick Delius in Paris, and prepared vocal scores for four Delius operas.
Florent Schmidt worked as a rather crazy and controversial music critic for Le Temps from 1929 until 1939, shouting 'Vive Hitler!' at a concert including music by Kurt Weill, and often shouting out his views from his seat in concert halls.
As a prolific composer of at least 138 works, Schmidt produced highly evocative music, including several operas, and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1900. His music was much performed in the early part of the twentieth century, but then fell into neglect, partly due to his Nazi party sympathies. His best-known works are probably Psaume XLVII for soprano, chorus, organ and orchestra (1906) and the ballet La tragédie de Salome (1907).
Florent Schmidt died on 17 August 1958 at Neuilly-sur-Seine, just west of Paris.
CD Spotlight. Saying Goodbye - Music in response to Debussy's early death, reviewed by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances are great all round, and this is a useful addition to anyone's collection.'
CD Spotlight. An Individualistic Voice - Music by French composer Florent Schmitt, recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'The orchestra and soloists are very fine, and the atmospheric nature of the music is beautifully captured.'
Ensemble. Quite Stunning - The 2015 Three Choirs Festival, enjoyed by Roderic Dunnett