Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Paul Hindemith

There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience

Paul Hindemith

16 November 1895, Hanau – 28 December 1963, Frankfurt am Main


Paul Hindemith was violist, violinist, teacher, conductor, one of the principal German composers of the first half of the 20th century and a leading musical theorist. He sought to revitalize tonality – the traditional harmonic system that was being challenged by many other composers – and also pioneered in the writing of Gebrauchsmusik, or “utility music,” compositions for everyday occasions. He regarded the composer as a craftsman (turning out music to meet social needs) rather than as an artist (composing to satisfy his own soul). As a teacher of composition he probably exerted an influence on most of the composers of the generation that followed him.

He earned his living at an early age playing the violin in cafes, dance bands, and theatres. His undertaking of almost any kind of musical job may have contributed to the facility and matter-of-factness with which he later composed. Studying music in Frankfurt, at 20 he became leader of the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra.

Early works included chamber music composed for the Amar-Hindemith Quartet, in which he played the viola; the song cycles Die junge Magd (1922; The Young Maid), based on poems by Georg Trakl, and Das Marienleben (1924, The Life of Mary); and the opera Cardillac (1926), based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Das Fräulein von Scuderi (The Girl from Scuderi). By the late 1920s Hindemith was regarded as the foremost German composer of his generation.

Paul Hindemith – Das Marienleben • Erna Berger

The “utility” music he wrote for children’s games, youth groups, brass bands, radio plays, and other practical purposes reflected a functional trend in the culture of postwar Germany. Hindemith collaborated with Kurt Weill on the music for a radio cantata by Bertolt Brecht, Der Lindberghflug (1928; The Lindbergh Flight).

Kurt Weill & Paul Hindemith & Berthold Brecht – Der Lindberghflug

His greatest work, Mathis der Maler, an opera about the painter Matthias Grünewald and his struggles with society, caused a public imbroglio in Nazi Germany when Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted an orchestral version with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1934 and vigorously supported the opera in the press. The Nazi cultural authorities, led by Joseph Goebbels, banned the opera, denouncing the composer as a “cultural Bolshevist” and “spiritual non-Aryan”.

Paul Hindemith – Mathis der Maler • Orchestra of the University of Music ”Franz Liszt” Weimar Conductor: Nicolás Pasquet

As a teacher of composition he probably exerted an influence on most of the composers of the generation that followed him.

More on:


The Harmony of the World • Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Evgeny Mravinsky


***** [În română] *****

Paul Hindemith

16 noiembrie 1895, Hanau – 28 decembrie 1963, Frankfurt am Main


Paul Hindemith a fost compozitor german, violist, violonist, dirijor, pedagog și teoretician muzical. A învățat să cânte la vioară încă din fragedă copilărie. A intrat la Conservatorul din Frankfurt am Main unde a studiat vioara, dirijatul și compoziția. A fost concert-maestru al Orchestrei din Frankfurt, Frankfurter Museumsorchester din 1915 până în 1923 și a cântat în cvartetul Rebner String Quartet, vioara a 2-a, iar apoi viola. În 1921 a fondat Cvartetul Amar, numit astfel după unul din membrii săi, violonistul Licco Amar, ființând până în 1929.

Câteva din piesele lui au fost auzite la festivalul Societății Internaționale pentru Muzică Contemporană la Salzburg, ceea ce l-a adus pentru prima dată în atenția unui public internațional. În anul următor a început să lucreze ca organizator al Festivalului Donaueschingen, unde a programat lucrări ai unor compozitori avangardiști, printre care Anton Webern și Arnold Schoenberg. Din anul 1927 a predat la Berliner Hochschule für Musik. În perioada anilor 1930 a făcut o vizită la Cairo și mai multe vizite la Ankara unde, la invitația lui Atatürk, a avut misiunea de a reorganiza educația muzicală în Turcia, și a început înființarea Turkish State Opera and Ballet. Către sfârșitul anilor 1930, el a făcut mai multe turnee în America în calitate de solist la violă și viola d’amore.

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Paul Hindemith & Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1963):

• Paul Hindemith – Konzertmusik for Brass and String Orchestra, Op. 50 (1930)

• Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 7 in E major, 1st movement (1881–1883)

• Johannes Brahms – Academic Festival Overture, Op.80 (1880)


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