Paul Hindemith

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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits
Michael H. Kater.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Paul Hindemith: The Reluctant Emigre"
The Devil's Music Master: The Controversial Life and Career of Wilhelm Furtwangler
Sam H. Shirakawa.
Oxford University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "The Hindemith Scandal"
Man and His Music: The Story of Musical Experience in the West
Alec Harman; Anthony Milner; Wilfrid Mellers.
Oxford University Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Schoenberg and Hindemith"
The Symphony: A Listener's Guide
Michael Steinberg.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith" begins on p. 248
European Music in the Twentieth Century
Howard Hartog.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith" begins on p. 60
An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music
Peter S. Hansen.
Allyn and Bacon, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Hindemith"
Composers on Composers
John L. Holmes.
Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)" begins on p. 79
Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations
David Ewen; David Ewen.
H. W. Wilson, 1934
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith 1895-" begins on p. 112
The Modern Age, 1890-1960
Martin Cooper.
Oxford University Press, 1974
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith" begins on p. 327
Alfred Einstein on Music: Selected Music Criticisms
Catherine Dower.
Greenwood Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Includes criticism of Paul Hindemith
Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America
Robert P. Morgan.
W. W. Norton, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "The Influence of Politics"
Musical Trends in the 20th Century
Norman Demuth.
Rockliff Publishing, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Sixteen "Gebrauchsmusik Kurt Weill (1900-1950)--Paul Hindemith (1895)"
Modern Music: Composers and Music of Our Time
Max Graf; Beatrice R. Maier.
Philosophical Library, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Paul Hindemith begins on p. 215
The Music Lover's Handbook
Elie Siegmeister.
William Morrow, 1943
Librarian’s tip: "Paul Hindemith" begins on p. 216
Twentieth Century Music: How it Developed, How to Listen to It
Marion Bauer.
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1933
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XVI The New Opera: Berg, Hindemith, Weill, Krenek, Honegger, Milhaud, Gruenberg, Etc."
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