Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith

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Yale University Press, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 255 pages
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Paul Hindemith had a multifaceted career as an internationally acclaimed composer, performer, festival organizer, teacher, lecturer, and writer. Born in Germany in 1895, he was a leading member of the musical avant-garde, and when the Nazis came to power his compositions eventually were banned as "decadent art." In 1938 Hindemith went into voluntary exile in Switzerland and in 1940 migrated to the United States, where he became a citizen. His return to Europe after the war in response to urgent calls for help in rebuilding European musical life gave rise to many inner emotional problems.

This selection of letters written by Hindemith spans his entire career, from the First World War until shortly before his death in 1963. Translated and edited by a leading authority on Hindemith, the letters (some of which were written in English) reveal that he was an observant, engaging, and opinionated correspondent who took a keen interest in contemporary culture and politics. The first such selection to appear in English, the letters deal with personal and professional matters and are addressed to his wife, publishers, and friends in both Europe and America. Among the many important personalities with whom he came into contact were the composers Stravinsky and Milhaud, the conductors Mengelberg, Furtwängler, Koussevitzky, and Klemperer, and the choreographers Massine and Balanchine.

Published to coincide with the centenary of Hindemith's birth, the letters fill out our portrait of him and provide an absorbing chronicle of his life and times.

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An engaging selection of correspondences—by turns thoughtful, funny, businesslike, and touching—from one of the century's preeminent musical figures. Neatly timed to coincide with both the centenary ... Read full review

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About the author (1995)

Paul Hindemith was a German composer and conductor of great originality. His career began with the study of the violin and the viola, and he held important positions in German ensembles before the Nazi era. Under Hitler's regime, Hindemith experienced difficulties, both artistically and politically. For example, he refused to cease ensemble playing with known Jews. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, accused Hindemith of cultural Bolshevism, and his music fell into official desuetude. Unwilling to compromise, Hindemith began accepting engagements abroad. During the late 1930s, he emigrated to the United States, and in 1946 he became a U.S. citizen. Hindemith's musical style is uniquely his own. He sought in each piece to find the style, musical vocabulary, and thematic material most suitable for the intended use of the piece. He was immensely prolific and eclectic as a composer, writer, and teacher.

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