Author Topic: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)  (Read 31118 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« on: October 01, 2008, 01:42:04 PM »
I know that there are a number of people here who admire the music of the Austrian composer Franz Schmidt...so, a thread on Schmidt :)

The British musicologist(and good composer) Harold Truscott once said that Schmidt was "one of the greatest and most independent of symphonists". That seems to me to be a rather absurd statement, quite frankly, but that is not to deny that Schmidt was a composer of considerable substance-one of the last(if not the last) of the essentially Romantic composers working in the line of descent through composers like Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, Strauss and Reger.

Schmidt was certainly the last major Austrian composer to follow those traditions. As such he stood apart from the path taken by Mahler, Schoenberg and the latter's followers. Although Schmidt played cello in Mahler's Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and respected Mahler as a conductor he was less of an admirer of Mahler the composer.

There has been plenty of comment on Schmidt's symphonies elsewhere on this site. I agree with those who find the first three symphonies attractive works although I think that each is somewhat overlong and in the case of No.2 in particular, overblown. There is no doubt however that there is much to admire in the very considerable orchestral mastery Schmidt demonstrates in these symphonies.

I do think that Symphony No.4 is Schmidt's deepest symphony and one that, in its tragic pages(Schmidt composed it as a requiem for his recently deceased daughter) is profoundly moving.

The huge Oratorio "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln" based on the Book of Revelations can be extremely impressive in a fine performance(and there are one or two around) and does stand as one of the last of the great choral masterpieces of the Austro-German tradition.

I am not sure how many will be familiar with the two concertante works on this cd-two of a clutch of pieces written for the pianist Paul Wittgenstein who had lost his right arm in the First World War-but they are well worth hearing(although not masterpieces!).

« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 04:52:33 AM by Dundonnell »

Offline Daverz

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2008, 04:07:58 PM »
I learned to love Symphony 3 from the Pesek LP, which I later got on CD.  There are some copies left on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Franz-Schmidt-Symphony-Conducting-Philharmonic/dp/B000WL19OI/

Compared to 4, it's a lighter and more light-hearted work.

My introduction to 4 was the beautiful Mehta recording...actually I think that is still the only one I have.   

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2008, 08:20:31 AM »
I know that there are a number of people here who admire the music of the Austrian composer Franz Schmidt...so, a thread on Schmidt :)

Thanks for starting a Schimdt thread. Unfortunately I have no time to contribute anything substantial to it right now: I'm very busy preparing for my trip to Ohio (I fly from Frankfurt this Saturday). Perhaps in five weeks, after I return, I'll go searching for the thread (I'm sure it will be about 20 or 30 pages down by that time  ;) ) and when I find it, I'll say my piece.


Quote
I agree with those who find the first three symphonies attractive works although I think that each is somewhat overlong and in the case of No.2 in particular, overblown.

My appreciation of symphonies 2 and 3 rose dramatically after hearing Luisi's CDs. They don't come cheap though. Järvi and the surprising Detroit Symphony are sensational in the First, which I don't think is even a single note too long.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

springrite

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2008, 08:24:50 AM »
The symphonies did not sustain my interest at all. but Book of Seven Seals is definately a masterpiece. I also find the quartets to be attractive.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2008, 02:41:33 PM »
Thanks for starting a Schimdt thread. Unfortunately I have no time to contribute anything substantial to it right now: I'm very busy preparing for my trip to Ohio (I fly from Frankfurt this Saturday). Perhaps in five weeks, after I return, I'll go searching for the thread (I'm sure it will be about 20 or 30 pages down by that time  ;) ) and when I find it, I'll say my piece.


My appreciation of symphonies 2 and 3 rose dramatically after hearing Luisi's CDs. They don't come cheap though. Järvi and the surprising Detroit Symphony are sensational in the First, which I don't think is even a single note too long.

Sarge

Don't think I can manage 20 or 30 pages myself :) :)

Offline Guido

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2008, 03:17:25 PM »
FWIW I just bought the Symphony No.4 and "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln" based on this thread! I have only heard his lovely though I wouldn't say Great) quintet for piano left and strings. The Korngold Suite for similar requirements that it is coupled with on the CD I have is one of my favourite pieces of chamber music on the other hand (so to speak!). It's surprising that there's nothing for cello in his output given he was a cellist...
Geologist.

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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2008, 03:45:29 PM »
Oh, Guido, I do hope you like the Schmidt you bought :)

Which performances of the 4th and the Oratorio did you get?

The extremely thorough Wikipedia article on Schmidt points out that, although he was not actually the principal cellist of the Vienna Opera Orchestra(to be more accurate than the Vienna Philharmonic, as I said earlier), Mahler usually got Schmidt to play cello solos during a performance.

The Wikipedia article possibly slightly overstates the case for Schmidt but as a late Romantic he does outstrip by miles his slightly younger fellow Austrian Joseph Marx. There is none of the-to me-cloying, scented over-heated Romanticism which I hear in Marx in Schmidt's music.

Offline Guido

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2008, 04:30:26 PM »
These two.



Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

M forever

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2008, 08:44:29 PM »
The extremely thorough Wikipedia article on Schmidt points out that, although he was not actually the principal cellist of the Vienna Opera Orchestra(to be more accurate than the Vienna Philharmonic, as I said earlier), Mahler usually got Schmidt to play cello solos during a performance.

That's not quite correct. Schmidt did often play in the principal position at the Staatsoper while Mahler was director there, but even though Mahler specifically requested him to do so, he also declined to actually appoint Schmidt permanently to the principal position (one of three actually) even though that position was open for several years and a number of other candidates came and went. Apparently, Arnold Rosé, the concertmaster and brother-in-law of Mahler, had a problem with Schmidt and there were a lot of tensions between them and intrigues going on. Schmidt got tired of this and retreated to one of the back desks even though Mahler had threatened to fire him if he did so. But then he didn't. Strange stuff.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2008, 02:27:53 AM »
Very interesting!

Thank you for that correction and further info' :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2008, 02:28:57 AM »
These two.





Good choices :) :)

Well, I would say that...these are the versions I have in my collection ;D

Offline Guido

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2008, 02:35:44 AM »
yay cheap skates!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2008, 02:51:05 AM »
 :) :)

They were full-price when I bought them ;D

Hector

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2008, 04:30:59 AM »
I thought Atterberg won the 1928 competition, set to celebrate the centenary of Schubert's 'Unfinished' I think.

I like the four symphonies. The first is very reminiscent of Brahms.

I find them long but not overly so.

Fortunately, Fabio Luisi has given us benchmark recordings of the symphonies and he has recorded the oratorio but I've not heard that.

Welser-Most's recording of the 4th also gives us the Variations on a Hussar's Song. Now that does outstay its welcome.


Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2008, 04:51:56 AM »
Of course, Atterberg won with his 6th Symphony the 'Dollar Symphony'!

Schmidt's 3rd was in the final...I think!!

Sorry...I don't know what came over me :(

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2008, 05:07:46 AM »
I like Schmidt's music very much. I have listened to all the symphonies (Järvi and Mehta-4 and Pesek-3) - they are so different, I can't decide which I like best, they all have their particular beauties. I also love his Variations on a Hussar Theme, which I have on an EMI cassette I can't play anymore.  :'( I mustn't forget his Oratorio, of course, where the organ solo is wonderfully sinister (IMO). I also have sitting on my hard drive several organ pieces, like the Chaconne in C sharp minor, which is really major Schmidt. His chamber music I still have to listen to.

I find his musical language very individual. Does anyone have Harold Truscott's study (never completed, only vol. 1)? I have it and it's very good. Truscott exaggerates a bit sometimes (as was his wont), but he knows his stuff and makes a strong case for Schmidt.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2008, 05:17:19 AM »
I like Schmidt's music very much. I have listened to all the symphonies (Järvi and Mehta-4 and Pesek-3) - they are so different, I can't decide which I like best, they all have their particular beauties. I also love his Variations on a Hussar Theme, which I have on an EMI cassette I can't play anymore.  :'( I mustn't forget his Oratorio, of course, where the organ solo is wonderfully sinister (IMO). I also have sitting on my hard drive several organ pieces, like the Chaconne in C sharp minor, which is really major Schmidt. His chamber music I still have to listen to.

I find his musical language very individual. Does anyone have Harold Truscott's study (never completed, only vol. 1)? I have it and it's very good. Truscott exaggerates a bit sometimes (as was his wont), but he knows his stuff and makes a strong case for Schmidt.

Buy the (now!) cheap Welser-Most version of the 4th-an excellent account btw-and you will get the Variations on a Hussar's Theme again, Johan ;D

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2008, 05:20:37 AM »
i tried to sit through one of his bloated symphonies once...ugh, it was unbearable...as with that sort-of thing i often feel that better composers can express the same things & even say so much more with fewer bars...

I think better composers are simply better at what they want to express. Schmidt is more than competent in expressing what he wants to express, which no one else could do for him. And that's enough for me, though evidently not for you... But I agree - there are greater composers. I know that.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 05:22:25 AM by Jezetha »
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2008, 05:21:57 AM »
Buy the (now!) cheap Welser-Most version of the 4th-an excellent account btw-and you will get the Variations on a Hussar's Theme again, Johan ;D

Thanks for alerting me!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

M forever

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Re: Franz Schmidt(1874-1939)
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2008, 07:35:50 PM »
That's not quite correct. Schmidt did often play in the principal position at the Staatsoper while Mahler was director there

Of course the Staatsoper was the Hofoper (Court Opera) back then!  $:)