Personalities | Paul Hindemith | Modern Era | Opera

1895–1963, German

A composer, solo performer, conductor, teacher and theorist, Hindemith’s work boasted an eclectic array of musical styles, ranging from the expressionism of his first three one-act operas – now all but forgotten – to the polyphony of his later neo-Baroque output. The first signs of this transition could be heard in Cardillac (1926, revised in 1952), with its separate musical numbers, whereas Mathis der Maler (‘Mathis the Painter’, 1938) embraces a wide range of musical expression, including medieval modality and traditional German folk melodies, underpinned by contrapuntal techniques. By this time, much of Hindemith’s work was condemned as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis and banned throughout Germany, so he relocated to Switzerland and then America, where he spent several years lecturing at Yale and Harvard before returning to Europe in 1953. Die Harmonie der Welt (‘The Harmony of the World’, 1957) marked the culmination of his neo-Baroque compositional style, similar to that of Mathis, but performed on a much grander scale with two orchestras. Hindemith’s final opera, The Long Christmas Dinner (1961), featured an English libretto by Thornton Wilder. Unfortunately, however, neither this nor Die Harmonie have enjoyed repeated exposure.

Introduction | Modern Era | Opera
Major Operas | Mathis der Maler by Paul Hindemith | Modern Era
Personalities | Marilyn Horne | Modern Era | Opera
Techniques | Expressionism | Modern Era | Opera


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