- Jann Pasler
- and Jerry Rife
(b Blâmont, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Sept 28, 1870; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, Aug 17, 1958). French composer, pianist and critic. Throughout his life, Schmitt was valued for his independent spirit and refusal to be identified with any school or group. In a time when many composers embraced Impressionism, his music, albeit influenced by Debussy, was admired for its energy, dynamism, grandeur, and virility, for its union of French clarity and German strength. While some works, especially youthful ones, reveal a desire to please and are sometimes facile, many others refuse lyrical abandon and sentimentality and are formed of a wilful and premeditated complexity as well as a passion for strong bold colours, violent emotions and extreme contrasts. Schmitt was considered a pioneer during his lifetime, rejected by some and embraced by others for a style that influenced and helped prepare for later innovations by Stravinsky, Ravel, Honegger and Roussel.
Schmitt was born in Lorraine near the German border. His parents loved music and assiduously controlled what he listened to, steering him toward the Classical and German Romantic repertories. His father hoped he would become an organist. At 17 he entered the Nancy Conservatoire where he studied the piano with Henri Hess and harmony with its director, Gustave Sandré. According to his biographer Pierre-Octave Ferroud, Schmitt's most significant musical experience during this period was Franck's Violin Sonata. In ...