Throughout a long and highly productive life, Schmitt continued to compose a host of stage, orchestral, vocal, chamber and piano works. During his career he was President of the Société nationale de musique, and a member of the Société musicale indépendante. In 1914 he was enlisted into military service, and sent to serve in the front line at his own request. After the war, from 1921 to 1924 he was Director of the Lyons Conservatoire, and in 1929 became music critic for Le Temps, a position which he occupied in the manner of a high arbiter of national taste. In 1936, as mentioned above, Schmitt was elected to the Institut de France and the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
Schmitt remained, on the whole, true to the compositional ideals which had brought him his early successes. And, as sometimes seems to happen with artists who were ranked among the leaders of the avant-garde of their youth, Schmitt began to feel increasingly disenchanted with the direction that music was taking between the wars. Always a passionate French nationalist, his political leanings took an ever more pronounced rightward turn. He became increasingly vocal when he attended performances in his critical capacity, abusing new works or their performers from his seat in the hall—or, contrariwise, berating the audience when he felt they were not sufficiently appreciating some new work that he approved of. The most notorious incident occurred in November 1933, when Schmitt led a pro-Hitler and anti-Semitic protest against the performance of numbers from Der Silbersee by Kurt Weill (who had recently escaped from Nazi Germany) at the Salle Pleyel, resulting in a newspaper scandale. Weill’s French publisher, Heugel, called Schmitt an irresponsible lunatic. During the war, Schmitt remained in Vichy France and accepted honours from Pétain’s government. Such behaviour was sufficient for him and his music to fall into comparative obscurity after the war, though he continued to compose. In 1952 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur, and in 1957 he received the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris, less than a year before his death.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2007
Complete works available for download
|La tragédie de Salomé - Symphonic Poem, Op 50 BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Thierry Fischer (conductor)|
|Psaume XLVII, Op 38 BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Thierry Fischer (conductor)|
|Suite sans esprit de suite, Op 89 BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Thierry Fischer (conductor)|
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
|La tragédie de Salomé - Symphonic Poem, Op 50 (Schmitt)|
|Psaume XLVII, Op 38 (Schmitt)|
|Suite sans esprit de suite, Op 89 (Schmitt)|