Franz Schmidt

Biography

Born: December 22, 1874; Pressburg, Slovakia   Died: February 11, 1939; Perchtoldsdorf, Austria  
Like Paderewski, Gabrilowitsch, Schnabel, and Isabella Vengerova, Franz Schmidt became a piano pupil of Theodor Leschetizky at the Vienna Conservatorium in 1890, where he studied composition with Bruckner, theory with Robert Fuchs, and cello with Ferdinand Hellmesberger. Born to a German father and Slovak mother in what was then Hungary, he was declared a "musical miracle child" by a priest with whom he took organ lessons in Pressburg Read more (Bratislava today). This encouraged his poor but hopeful parents to move to Vienna in 1888, but chronic privation forced Schmidt to play in dancehall orchestras after graduation until he was chosen in 1896 by conductor Wilhelm Jahn to be a cellist in the Vienna Hofoper Orchestra, and the Philharmoniker drawn from its ranks.

A year later, Mahler succeeded the pedestrian Jahn as artistic director and proceeded to revolutionize performance and production standards for a decade, although his Philharmonic tenure was considerably shorter. Schmidt regarded him favorably at first, but animosity developed and persisted even after Mahler's "resignation" from the Hofoper in 1907. From 1901 to 1908, Schmidt taught piano and cello at the Conservatorium in addition to his duties in the opera house. He resigned the Philharmoniker in 1911, but continued to play with the opera until 1914, when the Staatsakademie appointed him professor of piano. He became professor of counterpoint and composition in 1922, director in 1925, and head of the Musikhochschule from 1927 to 1931. His service earned him the Franz-Josef Medal and for his 60th birthday, an honorary doctorate from Vienna University. Before his retirement in 1937, his most famous pupils included pianists Friedrich Wührer and Alfred Rosé (Mahler's nephew), and composers Theodor Berger and Alfred Uhl.

Schmidt was also respected by his peers, Schreker, Marx, Krenek, and Berg, for his soloist and chamber music performances. Schoenberg particularly admired him for directing Pierrot Lunaire in a performance by Schmidt's students.

Although Schmidt's financial and professional fortunes stabilized, his marriages were ill-omened. His first wife went insane, was institutionalized in 1919, and was murdered by the Nazis in 1940. Their only child, Emma, died after the birth of Schmidt's grandchild (he called his Symphony No. 4, composed in 1933, "a Requiem for my daughter"). A second marriage to a much younger piano pupil was plagued by Schmidt's ill-health, which worsened progressively until his death.

His mature career as a composer began with Symphony No. 1 (started in 1896, completed in 1899). The opera Notre Dame followed (1902-1904), then three more symphonies and another opera, Fredigundis. Most of his piano works were composed for Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm in WWI. (Posthumously, Wührer arranged everything for two hands and as such, they were published.) Schmidt also wrote chamber music, Variations on a Hussar's Song for orchestra, and much organ music. However, The Book With Seven Seals (1935-1937), an oratorio, is regarded by admirers as his masterwork, more important even than the symphonies.

After the deaths of Berg and Schreker, and the flight of Schoenberg and Zemlinsky to the U.S., Schmidt was proclaimed Austria's "most important composer of the time." He continues to be honored as the Romantic successor of Schubert and Bruckner, although his music bears a didactic resemblance to Max Reger's. Elsewhere, his music remained little-known until CD recordings in the 1990s documented several important works for non-Austrian audiences to hear. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 67 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Schmidt: Symphony No. 2 - Strauss: Festliches Praeludium / Blunier, Beethoven Orchester Bonn
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 9372006 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Christoph Anselm Noll
    Conductor:  Stefan Blunier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bonn Beethoven Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Karajan Spectacular, Vol. 5 / Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6726 Release Date: 07/07/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Franz Schmidt,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 3.
    Karl Bohm: The Early Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 561986 Release Date: 06/02/2017   Number of Discs: 19
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Jan Dahmen,  Max Zimolong,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Josef Herrmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Staatskapelle Dresden,  Dresden State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Schmidt: Symphony 2 - Strauss: Dreaming / Bychkov, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985355522 Release Date: 06/02/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt,  Richard Strauss
    Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Wiener Philharmoniker: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797090 Release Date: 03/31/2017   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Anton Dermota,  Irmgard Seefried,  Rosette Anday,  Paul Schöffler  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Rafael Kubelik,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Kuchl String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 6.
    The Christmas Album / Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002583302 Release Date: 11/04/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Christoph Pezel,  Franz Schmidt,  Traditional,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Andreas Schmidt,  Hans-Peter Blochwitz,  Delores Ziegler,  Sylvia McNair  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  James Levine,  Semyon Bychkov,  Fritz Lehmann  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Brass,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  RIAS Chamber Choir  ... 
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  • 7.
    Schmidt: Quintet in A Major / Linos Ensemble
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 555026 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Linos Ensemble
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  • 8.
    Schmidt: Variations on a Hussar's Song & Other Works / Rumpf, Stancul
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5274 Release Date: 08/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Jasminka Stancul
    Conductor:  Alexander Rumpf
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  • 9.
    Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln / Young, NDR Choir, Hamburg Philharmonic
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 1840 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Georg Zeppenfeld,  Klaus Florian Vogt,  Bettina Ranch,  Inga Kalna  ... 
    Conductor:  Simone Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  NDR Choir
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  • 10.
    Schmidt: Quintet in A Major for Piano Left-Hand, Clarinet, Violin, Viola & Cello
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3472 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Kae Hosoda-Ayer,  Christopher Ayer,  Jennifer Dalmas,  Kathryn Steely  ... 
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  • 11.
    Piano Music For The Left Hand
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6305 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Frank Bridge,  Dinu Lipatti  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Warzycki
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  • 12.
    Herbert Von Karajan: 3 Classic Albums - Opera Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002120102 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz von Suppé,  Gioachino Rossini,  Jacques Offenbach,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Meyer,  Michel Schwalbé
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 13.
    Karajan - Orchestral Recordings From Germany & Austria, 1970 - 1981: Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, R. Strauss, Sibelius, Schmidt / Berlin PO
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 33622 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Franz Schmidt,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Schwalbé
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    On sale! $48.86
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  • 14.
    Classic Karajan: The Essential Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002092702 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  José Carreras,  Ingrid Steger,  Lilo Brockhaus  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 15.
    100 Great Symphonies
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002054602 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 56
    Composer:  Giovanni Battista Sammartini,  Johann Wenzel Stamitz,  Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf,  Johann Christian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Hanna Schwarz,  René Kollo,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Kevin Mallon,  Christopher Hogwood,  Thomas Füri,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble,  Academy of Ancient Music,  Camerata Bern  ... 
    CD: $245.49
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  • 16.
    Karajan 1951-1960: Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, Wagner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633623 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $81.49
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  • 17.
    Franz Schmidt: Complete Works For Organ, Vol. 4
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38042 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Martin Schmeding
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  • 18.
    Franz Schmidt: Works For Piano Left Hand & Orchestra
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10309 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Karl-Andreas Kolly
    Conductor:  Herbert Bock,  Werner Andreas Albert
    On sale! $24.99
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  • 19.
    Schmidt: Notre Dame / Perick, Jones, King, Moll
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5181 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  James King,  Horst Laubenthal,  Kurt Moll,  Hans Helm  ... 
    Conductor:  Christoph Perick
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
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  • 20.
    Schmidt: Concertante Variationen, Etc / Grante, Luisi, Et Al
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 611 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Carlo Grante
    Conductor:  Fabio Luisi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Middle German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Freu Dich Sehr, O Meine Seele / Christian Brembeck
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 419 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Ludwig Krebs,  Sigfrid Karg-Elert  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Brembeck
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  • 22.
    In Memoriam: Yakov Kreizberg, 1959-2011
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186461 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schmidt,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Julia Fischer,  Yakov Kreizberg
    Conductor:  Yakov Kreizberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Russian National Orchestra
    On sale! $29.99
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  • 23.
    Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln / Mitropoulos, Dermota, Gueden, Wunderlich, Berry
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68442 Release Date: 06/02/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schmidt
    Performer:  Alois Forrer,  Anton Dermota,  Ira Malaniuk,  Hilde Gueden  ... 
    Conductor:  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Friends of Music Society,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 24.
    100 Best Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17639 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 648513 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
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