In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Paul Hindemith

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Musical Sources
  • Theoretical Writings
  • Other Musical Writings
  • Letters, Diaries, and Interviews
  • Essay Collections
  • Journals
  • Theory, Aesthetics, and Tradition
  • Pedagogical Activities
  • Performing Activities
  • Literary and Graphic Works

Music Paul Hindemith
Joel Haney
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 February 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0112


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.

Reference Works

Hindemith Foundation is the major website for information and scholarly projects concerning Hindemith. Schubert 2003 is the most extensive encyclopedia article on Hindemith, whereas Hindemith, Paul is more concise and in English. Luttmann 2009 is a comprehensive research guide.

  • Hindemith Foundation.

    Detailed information about the Hindemith Foundation, the Hindemith Institute, and related institutions, as well as important scholarly projects. Searchable bibliography of the secondary literature and a searchable discography, lists of Hindemith’s works and writings, upcoming performances of his music, summaries of his life, work, and thought, and selected archival photos, facsimiles, and sound recording excerpts. In German and English.

  • Luttmann, Stephen, ed. Paul Hindemith: A Research and Information Guide. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

    Broad coverage of the secondary literature (over twelve hundred items listed), with detailed, critically minded annotations. Also covers primary sources, with informative lists of Hindemith’s musical works and writings (Appendix A) and his recorded performances (Appendix B). Also available online.

  • Schubert, Giselher. “Hindemith, Paul.” In Grove Music Online.

    Integrated account of Hindemith’s life and works, plus works list and concise bibliography. Print version (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., Vol. 11, 523–538. London: Macmillan, 2001) includes reproductions of photos and facsimiles lacking in the online version.

  • Schubert, Giselher. “Hindemith, Paul.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. 2d ed., Personenteil. Vol. 9, cols. 5–51. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 2003.

    Admirably detailed article, divided into an account of Hindemith’s career; a works list; a discussion of his musical poetics, compositional development, and output; and a very extensive bibliography.

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