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Music we've been missing (Part 11): Franz Schmidt

I noticed that when I went out into left field and advocated programming music by Heiner Goebbels earlier in this what-we've-been-missing series, I got nary a comment. Must have scared too many folks. This time, I figured I'd venture into right field (speaking tonally, not politically, of course), and try the much-neglected Austrian composer Franz Schmidt.

He played cello in the Vienna State Opera when Mahler conducted there and went on to direct a major conservatory. Schmidt, who died in 1939, wrote in a late-romantic style that he held onto even as his famed contemporaries, Schoenberg and company, were doing their best to turn the music world upside down.

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Every time I hear Schmidt's music -- this usually means by accident on radio, or by slipping a CD into the changer -- I'm impressed with its technical quality and expressive warmth. I think he deserves more of a hearing in our concert halls.

His third and fourth symphonies, in particular, would be most welcome. And, although I don't expect any opera company around here to revive his "Notre Dame," the Intermezzo from that work was once much admired and would make a great filler on concerts. (For that matter, why doesn't anyone bring out all the great opera intermezzi out there and put them together to form a juicy program half?)

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Here's just a sampling of Franz Schmidt's distinctive music, that "Notre Dame" Intermezzo and a movement from his Symphony No. 1, to offer a taste of we've been missing:

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