Schmidt, Franz

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Schmidt, Franz

Schmidt, Franz, important Austrian composer and pedagogue; b. Pressburg, Dec. 22, 1874; d. Perchtoldsdorf, near Vienna, Feb. 11, 1939. He began his musical training with the Pressburg Cathedral organist, Maher; in 1888 his family settled in Vienna, where he had piano lessons from Leschetizky and also studied composition with Bruckner, theory with Fuchs, and cello with Hell-mesberger at the Cons. (from 1890). He was a cellist in the orch. of the Vienna Court Opera (1896–1911); also taught cello at the Cons. of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (1901–08) and was prof. of piano (1914–22) and of counterpoint and composition (from 1922) at the Vienna Staatsakademie; also served as director (1925–27); subsequently was director of the Vienna Hochschule für Musik (1927–31). In 1934 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Univ. of Vienna. After his retirement in 1937, Schmidt received the Beethoven Prize of the Prussian Academy in Berlin. His second wife, Margarethe Schmidt, founded the Franz Schmidt-Gemeinde in 1951. Schmidt’s music is steeped in Viennese Romanticism; the works of Bruckner and Reger were particularly influential in his development, but he found an original voice in his harmonic writing. Although he is regarded in Austria as a very important symphonic composer, his music is almost totally unknown elsewhere. Outside his homeland, he remains best known for his orch. suite, Zwischenspiel aus einer unvollständigen romantischen Oper (Vienna, Dec. 6, 1903), taken from his opera Notre Dame (1902–04; Vienna, April 1, 1914). Among his other significant works are 4 syms.: No. 1 (1896–99; Vienna, Jan. 25, 1902), No. 2 (1911–13; Vienna, Dec. 3, 1913), No. 3 (Vienna, Dec. 2, 1928), and No. 4 (1932–33; Vienna, Jan. 10, 1934), a Piano Concerto for Piano, Lefthand and Orch., for Paul Wittgenstein (1923; Vienna, Feb. 2, 1924), and the oratorio Das Buch mit Sieben Siegeln (1935–37; Vienna, June 15, 1938). He also composed 2 string quartets (1925, 1929) and other chamber works, 2 piano sonatas, and much organ music.


A. Liess, F. S.: Sein Leben und Schaffen (Graz, 1951); C. Nemeth, F. S.: Ein Meister nach Brahms und Bruckner (Vienna, 1957); R. Scholz, F. S. als Orgelkomponist (Vienna, 1971); N. Tschulik, F. S. (Vienna, 1972; Eng. tr., 1980); H. Truscott, The Music of F. S.: vol. I, The Orchestral Music (London, 1985); T. Leibnitz, Österreichische Spätromantiker: Studien zu Emil Nikolaus von Rezniiek, Joseph Marx, F. S., und Egon Kornauth (Tutzing, 1986); T. Corfleld, F. S. (1874–1939): A Discussion of his Style with Special Reference to the Four Symphonies and “Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln” (N.Y. and London, 1989); G. Gruber, F. S. als Rektor der Fachhochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Wien (1927–1931) (Vienna, 1989); M. Gailit, Das Orgelsoloschaffen von F. S. (1874–1939) (Vienna, 1990); R. Schuhenn, F. S.s oratorische Werke: Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des “Buches mit sieben Siegeln” und der “Deutschen Auferstehung” (Vienna, 1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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