14-05-1900 - 30-04-1943
Leo Smit is considered one of the most gifted composers of the interbellum period. Shortly after he completed his studies, the Concertgebouw Orchestra performed his 'Silhouetten' orchestral suite. Critics noted “the use of the idiosyncratic sound combinations of the negro-like jazz band”. It was in part through a sojourn abroad ...
Biography Leo Smit
Leo Smit is considered one of the most gifted composers of the interbellum period. Shortly after he completed his studies, the Concertgebouw Orchestra performed his 'Silhouetten' orchestral suite. Critics noted “the use of the idiosyncratic sound combinations of the negro-like jazz band”. It was in part through a sojourn abroad that Smit hit upon his unique style, which combines lyricism, impulsiveness, spirituality and intellect. His clear, intelligent and reserved style is particularly apparent in his chamber music, such as the 'Quintet' for flute violin, viola, cello and harp (1928); 'Sextuor' for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn and piano (1933); and 'Trio' for clarinet, viola and piano (1938). In addition, he composed concertinos for viola, cello, harp and piano; a 'Symphony' (1936); and the ballet 'Schemselnihar' (1929).
1900 - 1922
Leo Smit is born in Amsterdam on May 14 to a well-to-do, non-religious, Portuguese- Jewish family. From 1919, he studies the piano and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Bernard Zweers and Sem Dresden. He completes his piano studies in 1922.
Smit is the first composition student to graduate cum laude from the Amsterdam Conservatory. All of his works prior to 1922 have been lost. He begins teaching musical analysis and harmony at the Amsterdamsch Conservatorium.
1925 - 1926
His first orchestral work, 'Silhouetten', is premiered in Amsterdam by the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Cornelis Dopper. The work consists of six miniatures referring to paintings by Paul Süss. Leo Smit makes a name for himself with incidental music for student associations, such as the 'A-Z Game' for Leiden.
1927 - 1933
Leo Smit stays in Paris, where he is influenced by, among others, Darius Milhaud, which gives his music a French slant, and by Igor Stravinsky’s neo-classicism. During this period, he apparently composes much film music for foreign companies, but none of it has survived. There is, however, music of a later date extant for three Dutch films. The ballet 'Schemselnihar' (1929) is premiered by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Pierre Monteux in Amsterdam.
The premiere of the 'Concertino' for harp and orchestra (1933) is given by the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Eduard van Beinum, a result of Smit’s long collaboration with the harpist Rosa Spier.
After staying for a year in Brussels, Smit establishes himself for good as a music teacher in Amsterdam. He teaches piano, composition, music theory and analysis in his home.
In February, he completes his last composition, the 'Sonate' for flute and piano. Leo Smit and his wife are transported by the German occupying forces via the Westerbork transit camp to the concentration camp at Sobibor. They are murdered upon arrival on April 30.
The flutist Eleonore Pameijer and pianist Frans van Ruth establish the Leo Smit Foundation to revive his music. Since then, regular concerts are given at the Uilenburger Synagogue in Amsterdam in which his work is often performed.
Discography Leo Smit
|Type and year||CD, 1999|
|Label||NM Special, NM 92098|
|muzikant||Radio Kamer Filharmonie|
|solist||Ronald Brautigam (2)|
|Type and year||CD, 2000|
|Label||MDG, 304 0995-2|
|Type and year||4CD, 2000|
|Label||NM Classics, NM Special 93003|
Complete Works Of Leo Smit (Chamber Music & Orchestral Works)
|Type and year||Album, 2014|
Leo Smit Ensemble - Modern Times - Dutch Jewish Composers 1928-1943
|Type and year||CD, 1995|
|Label||Channel Classics, CCS 7995|
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.