Franz Schmidt

Symphony No. 4 in C major

    Description by Mona DeQuis

    While much of his work is deeply rooted in the late nineteenth-century style, Austrian composer Franz Schmidt started to look ahead with his Symphony No. 4. It is the most "modern" of his four symphonies, from its inspired, tonally ambiguous trumpet solo in the beginning to its through-composed one-movement form.

    The Symphony No. 4 is regarded by many to have been a requiem, of sorts, to Schmidt's daughter who died at birth. There is a somber, probing, somewhat desperate nature not found in the previous three symphonies. The opening solo trumpet melody of the Allegro molto moderato serves as thematic glue throughout the symphony. Without a break, the Adagio begins and ends with an achingly beautiful cello solo (Schmidt had been a cellist in the Vienna Philharmonic) that metamorphoses into a highly dramatic "funeral dirge" in the middle. The Molto vivace is developmental in nature with fugal entrances hinting at Richard Strauss, and ends with a gigantic chromatic descent into oblivion. The last movement, Tempo primo un poco sostenuto, begins with the opening trumpet theme now played by the French horn (darker, more melancholy and resigned). Almost exclusively based on the beginning theme, the final section is a tour de force of melodic manipulation. A regrettably overlooked composer, Franz Schmidt will bring great pleasure to fans of Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss, and Erich Korngold.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro molto moderato
    2. Adagio
    3. Molto vivace
    4. Allegro molto moderato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2014 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Decca
    2010 MDG 937631
    2010 Naxos 8572118
    2006 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 556932A
    2006 Mdr Records 506
    2003 PentaTone Classics 5186015
    1997 Chandos CHAN9568
    1997 Chandos 9506
    1996 Chesky 143
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 55518
    1995 London 440615
    Decca 430007
    Opus 111 93501854