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Hindemith, Paul

Hindemith, Paul (b Hanau, 1895; d Frankfurt, 1963). Ger.-born Amer. composer, conductor, violist, and teacher (Amer. cit. 1945). Became first violinist in Frankfurt Opera orch. 1915 and Rebner Qt. Served in Ger. Army 1917–19, but continued to compose and to play in str. qt. Returned to opera orch. Left Rebner Qt. 1921. Two 1-act operas, Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen and Das Nusch-Nuschi, were cond. by Fritz Busch, Stuttgart 1921 and by Ludwig Rottenberg (whose daughter, Gertrud, Hindemith married in 1924) in Frankfurt 1922 (with a 3rd opera Sancta Susanna). These works, later disowned as prentice pieces, had a succès de scandale. His 2nd str. qt. was perf. Donaueschingen 1921, by qt., with Hindemith as violist, led by Licco Amar. This led to the permanent est. of the Amar Qt., which played only modern works. Hindemith left the Frankfurt Opera orch. in 1923, concentrating on his work with the Amar Qt. and as a member of the selection committee for Donaueschingen fests.

In 1927 Hindemith became teacher of comp. at Berlin Hochschule für Musik. Among his pupils were Franz Reizenstein, Walter Leigh, and Arnold Cooke. Also working in Berlin were 2 conds. who had championed Hindemith's mus., Furtwängler at the Phil. and Klemperer at the Kroll Opera. In 1929, because of pressure of work, Hindemith disbanded the Amar Qt. His satirical opera Neues vom Tage (News of the Day) was prod. in Berlin under Klemperer in summer 1929 (the first opera to incl. a sop. singing in her bath, which shocked Hitler); and his cantata Lehrstück, to a text by Brecht, created a scandal at the 1929 Baden-Baden Festival. In Oct. 1929 Hindemith made his first visit to London, where he was soloist in the f.p. of Walton's va. conc., having met Walton at Salzburg in 1923.

In 1933, the year Hitler came to power, Hindemith began work on an opera on the subject of the painter Matthias Grünewald, a medieval artist with a social conscience. He arr. 3 interludes as a suite, which he called the Mathis der Maler (Matthias the Painter) Sym. These were performed by the Berlin PO under Furtwängler in Mar. 1934 and were an immediate success. But official criticism of his mus. now began to be voiced publicly. Furtwängler wrote an article in Nov. 1934 defending Hindemith and opposing his ‘political denunciation’. As a result of the ensuing controversy, the Nazis forbade prod. of the Mathis opera. In 1935 Hindemith accepted an invitation from Turkey to est. a mus. sch. On his return from Ankara, he found the régime friendlier towards him and a Frankfurt première for Mathis seemed possible. But in 1936, after ‘demonstrative’ applause for Kulenkampff's playing of the new vn. sonata, Goebbels banned all further perfs. of Hindemith's mus. After a further spell in Turkey in 1937, Hindemith resigned from the Berlin Hochschule and visited NY to give lectures. He then settled in Switzerland, and in May 1938 Mathis der Maler was staged in Zurich, but mention of the event was forbidden in Ger. newspapers. In Feb. 1940 he sailed for the fourth time to the USA, this time to stay indefinitely. He was appointed visiting prof. of the theory of mus. at Yale Univ., and also was head of advanced comp. at the Berkshire summer fest. at Tanglewood, where his pupils in 1940 incl. Lukas Foss and Leonard Bernstein. He returned to Europe in 1947, visiting Italy, Holland, Belgium, Eng., Ger., Austria, and Switzerland where he renewed friendship with Furtwängler. In 1949–50 he spent a year at Harvard Univ. as Norton Prof., giving the Charles Eliot Norton lectures, later pubd. as A Composer's World. In 1951 he accepted a teaching post at Zurich Univ., dividing his time with his duties at Yale, but in 1953 resigned from Yale and returned to Europe. Cond. Vienna PO at Salzburg Fest. (1952) and Beethoven's 9th Sym. at Bayreuth (1953).

Hindemith is invariably associated with the term Gebrauchsmusik (utility mus.) but this is a misleading and drab name for his attitude to his art, which was that audiences should participate as well as listen. In his Berlin teaching days, therefore, he comp. works which could be used for teaching and would also provide material for amateurs. His title for this type of work was Sing-und Spielmusik (Music to Sing and Play). Examples are his children's opera Wir bauen eine Stadt (Let's Build a Town—echoed years later by Britten in Let's Make an Opera)—and Plöner Musiktag (A Day of Music in Plön), which is a series of instr. and choral pieces written for schoolchildren in Schleswig-Holstein.

Like his friend Walton, Hindemith began as an enfant terrible and ended by being regarded by the avant-garde as an ultra-conservative. He rejected the extremist methods of the avant-garde (but this did not prevent him from writing for an early elec. instr., the trautonium). His early works show the influences of Strauss and Reger, succeeded by Stravinsky and Bartók. As his style developed, his rhythmic drive and partiality for contrapuntal textures grew more evident, coupled with a reticent lyricism. This lyricism grew more evident at the time of Mathis der Maler, while his harmonic idiom was based on well-controlled dissonant tensions. Tonality was the firm basis of all his comps. The severe reaction against his mus., which eventually slackened, was as unjust as it was unthinking. The best of his mus. occupies an important place in the history of 20th-cent. comp. Prin. works:OPERAS: Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, the Hope of Women), 1-act, text by Kokoschka, Op.12 (1919); Das Nusch-Nuschi, 1-act, text by Blei, Op.20 (1920); Sancta Susanna, 1-act, text by Stramm, Op.21 (1921); Cardillac, Op.39 (1926, new version 1952); Hin und Zurück, Op.45a (1927); Neues vom Tage (1928–9, new version 1953); Mathis der Maler (1933–5); Die Harmonie der Welt (The Harmony of the World) (1956–7); The Long Christmas Dinner (Das lange Weihnachtsmahl) (1960). Also realization of Monteverdi's Orfeo (1943).THEATRE PIECES: Tuttifäntchen, mus. for children's Christmas play (1922); Lehrstück (Lesson on Consent), cantata to text by Brecht (1929); Wir bauen eine Stadt, children's opera (1930).BALLETS: Der Dämon, Op.28 (1922); Nobilissima Visione (1938); Hérodiade (1944).ORCH.: Lustige Sinfonietta, Op.4 (1916); Dance Suite, Das Nusch-Nuschi, Op.20 (1921); Concerto for Orchestra, Op.38 (1925); Concert Music, pf., brass, hps., Op.49 (1930); Concert music, str., brass, Op.50 (1930); Philharmonic Concerto (1932); sym., Mathis der Maler (1934); Symphonic Dances (1937); suite Nobilissima Visione (1938); The Four Temperaments, theme and vars., str., solo pf. (1940, perf. as ballet 1946); Sym. in E♭ (1940); Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (1940–3); Symphonia Serena (1946); Sinfonietta in E (1949–50); sym. in B♭, concert band (1951); Sym. Die Harmonie der Welt (1951); Pittsburgh Symphony (1958); March (1960).KAMMERMUSIK SERIES: No.1 (small orch.) Op.24 (1922); Kleine Kammermusik (wind quintet) Op.24 No.2 (1922); No.2 (pf. conc. with 12 instr.) Op.36 No.1 (1924), No.3 (vc. conc. with 10 instr.) Op.36 No.2 (1925), No.4 (vn. conc.) Op.36 No.3 (1925), No.5 (va. conc.) Op.36 No.4 (1927), No.6 (va. d'amore conc.) Op.46 No.1 (1927), No.7 (org. conc.) Op.46 No.2 (1927).CONCERTOS (besides those above): Concert Music, va., large chamber orch., Op.48 (1930); Concert Piece, trautonium, str. (unpubd.) (1931); Der Schwanendreher, va., small orch., based on folk-songs (1935); Trauermusik, va., str. (1936); vn. conc. (1939); vc. conc. (1940); pf. conc. (1945); cl. conc. (1947); hn. conc. (1949); conc. for ww., hp., orch. (1949); conc., tpt., bn., str. (1949); org. conc. (1962).CHORUS & ORCH.: Das Unaufhörliche (The Perpetual), oratorio, sop., ten., bar., and bass, ch., orch., text by G. Benn (1931); Requiem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (text by Whitman), mez., bar., ch., orch. (1946); Ite, angeli veloces (Go, flights of angels), cantata to text by Claudel in 3 parts: I, Triumphgesang Davids, alto, ten., ch., orch., wind band, spectators (1955), II, Custos quid de nocte, ten., ch., orch. (1955), III, Cantique de l'espérance, mez., ch., orch., wind band, spectators (1953); Mainzer Umzug, sop., ten., bar., ch., orch. (1962).VOICE & ORCH.: Die junge Magd, 6 Trakl songs, cont., fl., cl., str. qt., Op.23 No.2 (1922); Das Marienleben, 15 Rilke songs, sop., pf., Op.27 (1922–3; rev. version 1948, begun 1936; version with orch. Nos.1–4 1938, Nos.5–6 1959); Die Serenaden, cantata, sop., ob., va., vc., Op.35 (1924).CHAMBER MUSIC: 3 Pieces, vc., pf., Op.8 (1917); str. qt. No.1, Op.10 (1918), No.2, Op.16 (1920), No.3, Op.22 (1921), No.4, Op.32 (1923), No.5 (1943), No.6 (1945); vn. sonata in E♭, Op.11 No.1, in D, Op.11 No.2 (1918); va. sonata in F, Op.11 No.4, solo va., Op.11 No.5, vc. sonata, Op.11 No.6 (1919); solo va. sonata, Op.25 No.1, va. d'amore sonata, Op.25 No.2, solo vc. sonata, Op.25 No.3, va. sonata (unpubd.), Op.25 No.4 (1922); cl. quintet, Op.30; solo va. sonata (unpubd.), Op.31 No.4, Canonic sonata, 2 fl., Op.31 No.3 (1923); sonatas for solo vn., Op.31 Nos. 1 and 2 (1924); str. trio, Op.34 (1924); 3 Pieces for cl., tpt., vn., db., pf. (1925); trio for pf., va., heckelphone (or tenor sax.), Op.47 (1929); 14 Easy Duets, 2 vn. (1931); str. trio (1933); Scherzo, va., vc. (1934); vn. sonata in E (1935); fl. sonata (1936); bn. sonata; 3 Easy Pieces, vc., pf.; qt., cl., vn., vc., pf.; ob. sonata (1938); va. sonata in C; vn. sonata in C; cl. sonata; hp. sonata; tpt. sonata (all 1939); ca. sonata; tb. sonata; A Frog he went a-courting, vars., vc., pf. (all 1941); sax. sonata (1943); vc. sonata; septet for wind instr. (both 1948); db. sonata (1949); sonata for 4 hn. (1952); tuba sonata (1955); octet (1957–8).PIANO: Tanzstücke, Op.19 (1920); Suite 1922 (1922); Klaviermusik, Op.37 (Part I 1925, Part II 1926); mus. for film Vormittagsspuk, player-pf. (unpubd.) (1928); pf. sonata No.1 in A, No.2 in G, No.3 in B♭ (1936); sonata (4 hands) (1938); sonata for 2 pf. (1942); Ludus Tonalis (1942).ORGAN: org. sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 (1937), No.3 (1940).VOCAL: 8 Lieder, sop., pf., Op.18 (1920); Das Marienleben, sop., pf., Op.27 (1922–3, rev. 1936–48); 6 Songs on Old Texts, unacc. ch., Op.33 (1923); 4 3-part choruses for boys (1930); 2 Hölderlin Songs (1933); 4 Hölderlin Songs (1935); 5 Songs on Old Texts, unacc. ch. (rev. version to Eng. texts of 6 Songs, 1923, Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 6, with new song Wahre Liebe, 1937); 3 Choruses, male vv., 6 Chansons, ch., Variations on an Old Dance Song, male vv. (all 1939); La Belle Dame Sans Merci, v., pf.; 7 Songs to Eng. texts (both 1942); Sing on There in the Swamp, v., pf. (1943); To music (1944); Apparebit repentina dies, ch., brass (1947); 2 Songs to words by Oscar Cox, v., pf. (1955); 12 Madrigals, ch. (1958); Mass, unacc. ch. (1963). 13 Motets, sop. or ten., pf. (comp. in following order: No. 8 (1940–1), No.13 (1943), Nos. 2 and 11 (1944), Nos. 5 and 7 (1958), Nos. 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 (1959), Nos. 1 and 12 (1960).COMMUNAL & EDUCATIONAL MUSIC: Spielmusik, str., fls., obs., Op.43 No.1; Lieder für Singkreise (Songs for Group Singing), unacc. ch., Op.43 No.2 (1926); Schulwerk für Instrumental-Zusammenspiel (Educational Music for Instrumental Ensembles), str., Op.44 (1927); Sing-und Spielmusik für Liebhaber und Musikfreunde (Music to Sing and Play, for Amateurs and Music-lovers), Op.45; Frau Musica, 2 solo vv., ch., str., Op.45 No.1 (1928, as In Praise of Music 1943); Plöner Musiktag (1932).BOOKS: The Craft of Musical Composition (Unterweisung im Tonsatz) Vol. I, Theoretical (1935–7), Vol. II, Exercises in 2-part writing (1938–9), Vol. III, 3-part Writing (posth.); A Concentrated Course in Traditional Harmony (1942–3); Elementary Training for Musicians (1945–6); A Composer's World: Horizons and Limitations (Norton Lectures, Harvard 1949–50; pubd. in Eng. 1950, in Ger. as Komponist im seiner Welt, 1953); Johann Sebastian Bach, Heritage and Obligation (Frankfurt Lecture, 1950).

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"Hindemith, Paul." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) was a prolific and versatile German composer and also an important teacher of musical composition.

Paul Hindemith was born on Nov. 16, 1895, in Hanau am Main. At the age of 9, he began violin lessons; advancing rapidly, he was soon able to enter a conservatory in nearby Frankfurt, where he studied composition. In 1923 he became concertmaster of the Frankfurt Opera orchestra. More important, however, was his career as violist, first in the Rebner Quartet and later (1922-1929) in the Amar Quartet, which toured Europe playing many major contemporary works.

In 1919 Hindemith signed his first contract with a music publisher (Schott), a connection he maintained throughout his life. That same year he wrote his first important compositions: the First String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 10, and the one-act opera Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen. These were rapidly followed by two more stage works: Das Nusch-Nuschi, a one-act play for Burmese marionettes, and the one-act opera Sancta Susanna. All these works were controversial, and Hindemith was considered a radical. Yet, later, his music remained firmly rooted in tonality; he rejected the twelve-tone method and was not interested in electronic composition.

From 1926 to 1929 Hindemith was active in the direction of the contemporary chamber-music festivals at Donaueschingen and Baden-Baden. During these years he wrote chamber music, including chamber concertos for piano, cello, violin, viola, and organ. Cardillac (1926) was an opera of major importance in his career. In 1927 he produced typical examples of his Gebrauchsmusik, that is, music intended for specific purposes or particular occasions: the Spiel-und Jugendmusiken Music for Youth), Op. 43 and 44.

In 1927 Hindemith accepted a professorship of composition at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He remained there until 1934, when he was suspended as part of the Nazi campaign against "degenerate" (modern) music. It was under the impact of such turbulent political events that he composed his finest stage work, Mathis der Maler. Dealing with the problems and the duties of the artist in troubled times, this work draws deeply on Hindemith's own spiritual experiences while telling the story of the 16th-century German painter Matthias Grünewald. It was completed in July 1935 and premiered 3 years later in Zurich, Switzerland.

Also in 1935 Hindemith made his first journey to Turkey, where, at the request of the Turkish government, he drew up plans for the organization of Turkish musical life. While these plans were carried out over the next 2 years, he visited Turkey three more times. In 1937 he finally resigned from the Staatliche Hochschule; the following year he moved to Switzerland. In 1940 he emigrated to the United States and settled at Yale University, where he taught for the next 13 years.

During his American period Hindemith produced some of his most popular works, such as Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (1943) and When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd (A Requiem for Those We Love; 1946). However, he became nostalgic for Europe and in 1953 returned to Switzerland, where he lived for the last 10 years of his life. Among the major works of these years were two operas: The Harmony of the World (1957) and The Long Christmas Dinner (1960). On his last journey to America, in 1963, he heard the first American performance of the latter work, as well as the premiere of the Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, which he had written to celebrate the opening of Philharmonic Hall in New York City. His last work, a Mass for mixed choir a cappella, was premiered in November 1963 in Vienna under his direction. On December 28 he died in Frankfurt.

Hindemith's philosophy of music is summed up in the speech he gave upon receipt of the Balzan Prize in 1963. "In which direction, " he asked, " can music still develop? Certainly not … in the ever greater extension and expansion of the limits of sound. … To express what has never been said before, the musician must enter another dimension. He must explore the heights and the depths, the heights of the spiritual and the depths of the human soul." Such rejection of new sound possibilities weakened Hindemith's influence on musical developments of the 1950s and 1960s. More influential are his theoretical textbooks, The Craft of Musical Composition (1941), Traditional Harmony (1943), and Elementary Training for Musicians (1946), which are widely used in American universities.

Further Reading

Hindemith's Charles Eliot Norton Lectures of 1949-1950 were published as A Composer's World: Horizons and Limitations (1952). They offer interesting insights into the composer's views and experiences. A pictorial biography is Testimony in Pictures, with an introduction by Heinrich Strobel (trans. 1968). An excellent general study which discusses Hindemith is Joseph Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music (1961).

Additional Sources

Hindemith, Paul, Selected letters of Paul Hindemith, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Noss, Luther, Paul Hindemith in the United States, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Skelton, Geoffrey, Paul Hindemith: the man behind the music: a biography, New York: Crescendo Pub., 1975.

Yale University Music Library, The Paul Hindemith collection: Yale University Music Library archival collection mss 47, New Haven, Conn.: The Library, 1994. □

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Hindemith, Paul

Paul Hindemith (hĬn´dəmĬth), 1895–1963, German-American composer and violist, b. Hanau, Germany. Hindemith combined experimental and traditional techniques into a distinctively modern style. After studying at the Frankfurt Conservatory, he began his career as a viola player. He taught (1927–37) composition at the Berlin Hochschule, but during the Nazi regime his compositions were banned because of their dissonance and modernity. In 1935 he was commissioned by the Turkish government to reorganize that country's musical education. Later he taught at Yale Univ. (1940–53), becoming a U.S. citizen in 1946; but in 1951 he returned to Europe to teach at the Univ. of Zürich. Hindemith's early compositions are highly contrapuntal and often atonal. Later works display a return to tonality that has often been termed neoclassical. His best-known work is the symphony (1934) drawn from his opera Mathis der Maler [Mathis the painter] (1938), which is based on the life of the painter Mathias Grünewald. Other operas include Cardillac (1926) and Neues vom Tage [news of the day] (1929). Many of Hindemith's works might be classed as Gebrauchsmusik [utility music], written for specific performance by amateur school groups or chamber music organizations. His aim was to establish closer contact between composer and public. Included in this group are the children's opera Wir bauen eine Stadt [we are building a city] (1931) and numerous sonatas and chamber works. Other important works are the Ludus Tonalis (1943) for piano; the song cycle Das Marienleben (1923, 1948) set to poems by Rilke; the viola concerto Der Schwanendreher (1935), based on medieval German folk songs; the ballet Nobilissima Visione (1938); and the setting for chorus and orchestra of Walt Whitman's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (1946). His writings include Traditional Harmony (2 vol., 1943, 1948), The Craft of Musical Composition (1937, tr. 1942) and A Composer's World (1952).

See studies by I. Kemp (1970) and G. Skelton (1975).

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Hindemith, Paul

Hindemith, Paul (1895–1963) German composer, who emigrated to the USA in 1939. Among his works are symphonies, concertos, ballets, chamber music and operas. In the 1930s, with Kurt Weill, he developed Gebrauchsmusik (Ger. utility music) written for amateur performance. Hindemith's best-known work is the symphony he derived from his opera Mathis der Maler (1934).

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