Paavo Järvi has just released the fifth set of the four symphonies of Franz Schmidt.
None of the previous four sold enough copies to pay for a coffee machine but conductors are enamoured of these tedious screeds and continue to perform them. I have argued long and vigiorously with Franz Welser-Möst and Semyon Bychkov that the symphonies lack either dramatic or diversionary interest, but they for some reason remain enamoured. I have heard the symphonies several times without once being convinced. Is it a central European thing?
There are two-dozen post-War symphonists whose work is far more gripping than Schmidt’s, not to say more relevant. Nothing about him excites my attention.
Schmidt (1874-1939) was a cellist in Mahler’s orchestra at the Vienna Opera and one of his chief opponents. He later became a vociferous Nazi. The Vienna Philharmonic are proud of him as one of their own.
Have I left anything out?