Paul Hindemith

16/11/1895 Hanau, 28/12/0963 Frankfurt am Main  

Paul Hindemith was a renowned German composer, violinist, violist, conductor and teacher. He was born into the family of a painter/varnisher, who cultivated in all his children a love of music. At the age of nine, Paul began taking violin lessons. In 1908, he enrolled at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, where he studied the violin, conducting and composition. In 1913, he became concert master at the Neues Theater, a post he would later on also assume at the Oper Frankfurt. During World War I, he served in the German Army as a drummer with the infantry regiment band. In 1927, Hindemith was appointed professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, and two years later he also started to teach at the Musikschule in Neukölln. In 1929, Adolf Hitler complained about Scene 5 in Hindemith’s comic opera Neues vom Tage (News of the Day), staged at the Krolloper in Berlin. With the rise of the Nazis in Germany, Hindemith’s name was put on the list of disfavoured composers and his music was labelled as “Cultural Bolshevism” and “Degenerate Art” (Entartete Kunst). In 1935, Hindemith accepted the invitation of the Turkish government to visit Ankara with a view to overseeing the establishment of a conservatory. In 1936, his music was banned in Germany, and subsequently, in 1938, he was included in the Entartete Musik exhibition in Düsseldorf. Moreover, Hindemith was persecuted due to his wife being of Jewish descent. In 1938, the couple emigrated to Switzerland, before moving to the USA in 1940. Hindemith taught at several schools, primarily Yale University. He became a US citizen, but in 1953 returned to Europe for good. During his career, Hindemith conducted numerous orchestras, most notably the Berliner and Wiener Philharmonikers. A highly prolific composer, his extensive oeuvre includes the operas Sancta Susanna, Cardillac, Mathis der Maler (Matthias the Painter), Die Harmonie der Welt (The Harmony of the World), and numerous chamber and symphonic works.