Wer war Paul Hindemith?

Who was Paul Hindemith?

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher and conductor. He was one of the most important composers of the 20th century and had a great influence on various musical genres. Hindemith's works ranged from chamber music and orchestral compositions to operas, ballets and choral music.

Childhood and youth

Paul and his two siblings received music lessons at an early age - his father was very musical himself, but was never able to live out his talent. They performed as the 'Frankfurt Children's Trio'. From 1912 onwards, Paul received composition lessons from Arnold Mendelssohn, the second cousin of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, among others.

Breakthrough in the 1920s

In the 1920s, the equally talented brothers Paul (viola) and Rudolf (1900-1974, cello) played together in the Amar Quartet, one of the leading groups in the new music scene of the 1920s. However, Rudolf soon took a different path: he left the quartet and switched from classical music to jazz.

In 1921, Paul Hindemith had his breakthrough as a composer: his 3rd String Quartet op. 16 caused a great stir at the first Donaueschinger Music Festival. His works were subsequently performed internationally and he became the most successful composer of his generation. In 1927, he was appointed professor of composition at the Berlin Academy of Music.

Paul Hindemith's compositional style

His style was characterized by a mixture of traditional tonality and elements of atonality and dissonance, often using complex harmonic structures and rhythmic patterns.

Emigration and teaching

In the 1930s, Hindemith's work in Germany became increasingly difficult: his compositions were considered 'degenerate art', and from 1936 the performance of his works was banned. He spent several long periods abroad before going into exile with his wife in 1938. They initially settled in Switzerland, but after the war began they moved to the USA, where Paul Hindemith accepted a professorship in music theory at Yale University. From 1951, he also taught at the University of Zurich, where a chair was specially set up for him.

Paul Hindemith was an influential music theorist and music educator: he published several textbooks and treatises on music theory, composition and performance. His teaching methods emphasized a holistic approach to music education, encompassing theory, history and performance.

Paul Hindemith as conductor

Paul Hindemith only began working as a conductor late in life, when he was over 50 years old. He performed with famous orchestras all over the world, such as the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, and many major American orchestras.

Late work and death

In 1953, Paul Hindemith left the USA and returned to Europe: he lived on Lake Geneva until his death. Even after he stopped teaching (1957), he continued to work as a conductor and composer, creating major operas, symphonies and concerts. After the premiere of his last work, the Mass for mixed choir a capella on November 12, 1963 in Vienna, Hindemith initially returned home. However, he was already ill at this point: a few days later he was admitted to hospital in Frankfurt, where he died six weeks later of pancreatic cancer.
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