Franz Schmidt

Austrian Born 22 Dec 1874 Died 11 Feb 1939

Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) was a student of the composers Anton Bruckner and Robert Fuchs.  As a youth he made his living playing piano in a dance hall, and later as a cellist in the Vienna Court Opera.  He went on to become a professor at the Vienna Aademy of Music, and was a noted conductor.  Schmidt's reputation has suffered somewhat owing to his entanglement with Nazi propaganda and his pro-fascist sentiments, although Gustav Mahler, a Jewish composer and conductor, was an idol of his.

Schmidt's late Romantic music, expressive and richly melodic, covers symphonies, quartets, opera and oratorio.  His importance as an adept handler of symphonic form, and as a lyric master, has spread his fame well beyond Austria, his homeland.  His oratorio The Book of the Seven Seals (based on the apocalypse), and the opera Notre-Dame are particularly well known.  The contribution Schmidt made to organ music is considerable, with his series of chorale-preludes, preludes and fugues, toccatas and sets of variations.

Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for Piano left hand and Orchestra, and a Piano concerto for the left hand were written by Schmidt for Paul Wittgenstein, the one-armed pianist brother of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Related composers: MahlerBrucknerFuchs

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