A Reflection On Paul Hindemith

A Reflection On Paul Hindemith Paul Hindemith was revolutionary and a musical genius. Many people who lived around the same time saw him as nothing more than an untalented noisemaker. Granted, these people didnt have all of the various forms of music that we have today, but untalented would not be a word I would use to describe Paul Hindemith. He helped begin the last great change in classical music from the Romantic Era, which was very tonal and diatonic, to 20th Century Modern Music, which is extremely atonal.

Diatonic means within in the key. In other words, everything sounds nice and pretty.There are no weird noises, no funny pitches. Atonal itself is defined as the avoidance of the traditional musical tonality, or in laymans terms, it sounds very weird. Paul Hindemith was born in the German State of Hesse in 1885, and grew up in Germany. After he completed his studies at the Conservatory of Frankfurt-am-Main, he was appointed conductor of the opera orchestra (1915-1923). In 1921, he also helped organize the famous Amar-Hindemith Quartet, in which he played viola.In 1927, he became the composition teacher at the Musikhochschuk in Berlin (Germany).

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In 1934, Hitler banned his work in Germany because of its extreme modernism. Around the same time, Hindemith was forced to flee the country of his birth after being openly Heppner – 2 opposed to Hitler and the doctrines of Goebbels. (Emory University, website). The doctrines were documents written by Dr.Joseph Goebbels recording the history of the Nazi party (Encyclopedia Britanica Online).

In late 1939, he moved to the United States, and became the composition professor at Yale University. He was only there until World War II ended. After the war, he returned to Europe to take the position of the professor of composition at Zurich University. He died from a heart attack in a hospital in Frankfurt in December of 1963. The earliest known works of Hindemith were written in the year 1913.

There were four main pieces, which were all written in a composition class taught under Arnold Mendelssohn at the Hoch Conservatory, which is located in Frankfurt, Germany. Theyre all considered student works. That creates a problem for historians, because normally only one copy was written. All of his early music was lost, unpublished, or only bits and pieces.

The first masterpiece he wrote that is still very popular today is the Concerto in Eb for Violoncello and Orchestra, Opus 3. Later on when asked about it, Hindemith stated, I like this piece very much, particularly the first movement; the other two do not seem to me to have come off so well.I soon found out that I would have to try something else (The Larousse Encyclopedia of Music). .

Through his work, Hindemith, like most composers show whats going on both in his life and in the world. His String Quartet in F Minor, Opus 10, also known as his First String Quartet, written between February and May of 1918 is a prime example of Heppner – 3 this. The end of WWI was nearing, and Germany was staring right into the face of defeat.This is portrayed with movements that are very dark and somber. Like any of the great composers, there are characteristics which make Hindemiths music his. His melodies often incorporated an interval of a fourth, as well as diatonic seconds.

These, especially in the Classical and Romantic Eras of Music, were considered unbreakable rules, especially when writing for singers. They were avoided whenever possible, due mainly to the fact that theyre extremely hard to hear and sing.Other unique characteristics of Hindemiths music are the occasional use of Gregorian chants. An example of this is found in what is disputably his best Opera, Mathis der Maler. He frequently used dissonant counterpoint (a second melody which usually counters the main melody) with the use of fugato and imitative writing. A real turning point came in his music in the 1930s, around the time Hitler came to power in Germany. In his early works, he experimented with expressionism, jazz, atonality, parody and satire.From the 1930s on, he was more of a serious composer, and used forms including the canon (which is a round the same melody, with 3 or more sections starting at different times), variation, suite, fugue, and the sonata.

These styles were all popular forms during the Baroque and Classical Eras. His last completed piece was simply entitled Mass. It was a liturgical Mass, for mixed chorus acappella.

The world premiere of the Mass was in Vienna on November 12, 1963.Listening to it, you can tell what was going on in his life by its tone. One cant help Heppner – 4 but feel his pain and knowing that his health was beginning to fail him. Four days later he became seriously ill and never recovered, dying on December 28. 1963.

I will admit that the first time I heard his music, my initial reaction was what is that noise? Now after studying music intensely, I realize that he was a genius. A new explorer if you will.He was willing to be daring and different to get a reaction from people. He wasnt like composers before him. Mozart for example was an employee, per say, of the Roman Catholic Church.

Composers in the past usually wrote what their employer wanted to hear. Paul Hindemith was one of the first who wasnt scared to write for his enjoyment, not caring whether or not someone would pay him for his work.Isnt that the same as music artists today? Music still keeps pushing and pushing just seeing how much people can take. Hindemith was a rebel, but its the rebels who are willing to take chances on things they believe in. Hindemith once wrote: Music, as long as it exists, will always take its departure from the major triad and return to it. The musician cannot escape it any more than the painter his primary colors, or the architect his three dimensions. That speaks for itself.

The terminology maybe a little unclear to those who arent too familiar with music, but his analogy of the painter makes it perfectly clear. Whether the listener likes the music or not is irrelevant. Its the way a composer thinks. His music is how he speaks, just as an artist speaks through his brush. No matter what composer you look at, what is going on in his life at the time of his piece is usually evident.Notes to a composer are words to an author. One can study Heppner – 5 his works, play them, and even make a determination as to whether or not they like it, but no one except the composer knows whats going on in their head. That may be a good thing, it may not, but thats one of the mysteries of music.

Bibliography 1. Arnold, C. Paul Hindemith.Web Page found at http://www.emory.edu/Music/Arnold/hindemith content.html.

2. Hindley, Geoffrey. The Larousse Encyclopedia of Music. Scarborough, North Yorkshire.Reed International Books, 1971, reprinted 1994, p. 371-372, 406-407.

3. Kemp, Ian. Hindemith.

New York, Toronto.Oxford University Press, 1970, p 12, 14-16, 20, 29. 4. Lampson, L.D. Paul Hindemith. Classical Net, 1995-1998. Web page found at http://www.

classical.net/music/lomp.1st/hindmith.h tml 5.Neumeyer, David.

The Music of Paul Hindemith. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University Press, 1986, p 5, 26, 43-45, 140, 165, 190-192, 254-283. 6.Strobel, Heinrich.

Paul Hindemith: A Testimony in Pictures. Germany. B. Schotts Sohne and Mainz, 1961, p 7-11.