Biography

Martha Helen Schmidt is a composer and educator from Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

She has taught piano, flute, voice and theory/composition at the elementary,

secondary, and college levels.  She taught choir, piano, music theory in the public

schools for 28 years and recently retired from her teaching career to further pursue

her love of composing. 

Ms. Schmidt holds a Bachelor of Music in Theory/Composition from Lawrence

University Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music in Theory/Composition

from Ithaca College.  She had the distinct privilege to study with one of the greatest

teachers of the 20th century, Nadia Boulanger, at Les Ecoles d’Art Américaines de

Fontainebleau (Conservatoire Américain) in France.  While there, she also studied

species counterpoint with Louise Talma, and solfège from Annette Dieudonne. 

Other teachers include Pulitzer Prize winners Steven Stucky and Karel Husa, as well as Libby Larsen and James Ming.    

Ms. Schmidt currently has five choral octavos published by Theodore Presser. Her choral works have been performed by ensembles here and abroad including St. Olaf College, Viterbo University, University of Minnesota, Minnesota All-State Choir, and Dordt College. Her octavos have been performed in various places including Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, Basilicas of St. Mary's and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, Notre Dame in Paris, St. Peters Basilica in Rome, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. She collaborated with world-renowned National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg on Earth Teach Me, an SATB choral work based on a beautiful Native American Ute poem.  Each line of the poem corresponded with a Brandenburg photo of his choosing.

The past 15 years she has found her passion in writing Art Songs and cycles.  Her song cycle I Open and Fill with Love, is her second set of songs based on the poetry of Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and mystic.  It was highly received at its premiere in Paris and Fontainebleau, France including a performance at the 90th Anniversary Jubilee of the Conservatoire Américain. She also has two French cycles entitled Trois Mélodies and Quatre Chansons based on the poetry of Verlaine, Laforge, Baudelaire, Apollinaire, and Valéry.

Her song cycle Ship of Death, for bass/baritone and based on the poetry of D. H. Lawrence, was premiered at the 2016 Source Song Festival in Minneapolis.  Another recent cycle includes Three Sonnets which received its premiere at the 2018 Source Song Festival.  Also premiered at that festival was a new Art Song called Lonely based on the poetry of Minnesota poet, Freya Manfred.  Ms. Schmidt's song Too Much Light received its premiere in June 2018 at the Vancouver Art Song Lab with poetry by Barbara Black. 

“I love music with a lot of heart and we have just that.  They are really superb.” – Philipe Entremont.  

"These songs are treasures! Oh my goodness, an American writing with the absolute presence of the French mélodie. How amazing. They are exquisite!” – Ruth Palmer.

 

She considers herself fortunate to live in the state of Minnesota, which has such a rich and well supported Arts culture. Visit her at: www.marthahelenschmidt.com

 

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