Paul Hindemith

Joel Haney

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Paul Hindemith

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Paul Hindemith (b. 1895–d. 1963) was one of the most versatile and energetic musicians among the major 20th-century composers. After playing violin in the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra for several years (most of them as concertmaster), he became a leading solo violist and member of the Amar Quartet, among the most respected groups championing contemporary music in the 1920s. During the same period, he rose to international prominence as a composer, writing in all major genres, engaging current aesthetic trends such as expressionism and the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), and playing a leading role in important music festivals. In the later 1920s and early 1930s, he geared his compositional activity toward a variety of innovative nonconcert functions—mechanical and electrical instruments, film, radio, and amateur performance—and thus helped define the emerging category of Gebrauchsmusik (Utility Music). With his appointment to the faculty of the Berlin Musikhochschule in 1927, he embarked on an influential career as a teacher of composition and music theory, making important contributions to the latter field. A deterioration of personal and professional circumstances under the National Socialists led Hindemith to emigrate with his wife, Gertrud, to the United States in 1940. There, he taught at Yale University, accomplishing important work in early music performance alongside his other teaching duties, and turning out a series of compositions that continue to hold a firm place in the repertory. In 1951, he began teaching in Switzerland at the University of Zurich, having been appointed to a professorship in musicology. Hindemith’s later years also found him traveling around Europe and the globe as an active conductor. Partly due to his harsh criticism of twelve-tone music, Hindemith saw his influence among younger composers decline rapidly after World War II with the rise of the serial avant-garde. His reputation also suffered in the 1950s and 1960s from the influential polemics of Theodor W. Adorno. Since the 1970s, however, scholarly interest in his work has grown, resulting in a secondary literature that increasingly reflects his diverse musical contributions. After the death of Gertrud Hindemith in 1968, a Hindemith Foundation was established. Among the institutions it supports is the Hindemith Institute in Frankfurt, the principal archive for Hindemith research.

Article.  12443 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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