German composer Peter Schmitz was the son of a butcher. He attended the Gymnasium at Meiningen in Saxony-Anhalt, and subsequently the conservatory in Cologne, where he became a trumpeter. In World War I, he joined the German army as a volunteer. After the war, he was a trainee conductor at the Cologne Opera House, and also director of the local men’s choir. In 1920, Schmitz returned to Meiningen to become trumpeter of the court orchestra and later its musical director. In 1926, he took over Anhalt’s Philharmonic Orchestra in Dessau. After he was denied the position of a general musical director, Schmitz left Dessau the following year to become conductor at the Städtische Musikverein and the Municipal Orchestra in Trier. In this role in 1928 and 1929, he presented the St Matthew Passion and various other concerts. In 1945, he returned briefly to the position of musical director in Meiningen and, there, conducted one of the first concerts in Germany after World War II. Until 1949, he worked as conductor in Eisenach.