Paul Hindemith: Idle Thoughts

I am listening to Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

Absolutely thrilling and just a bit weird!

My impression is that Hindemith should have gone to the well from which he drew the Symphonic Metamorphoses a few more times!

I’ve found only a very few other Hindemith works that I’d save from the blaze: the Mathis der Maler symphony and maybe the Konzertmusik for strings and brass Op. 50. I’ve tried a fair bit of his other music but not much seems to linger fragrantly in the memory.

But … I do love the ‘cello concerto of 1940, the main theme from the second movement of which Walton took as the theme for his Hindemith Variations of 1962-3.

Hindemith also, and quite understandably, wrote beautifully for the viola, and for the violin come to that.

After the Second World War war Hindemith returned to Germany and became a respected figure in teaching. Otto Klemperer viewed this with some cynicism and attended one of his lectures. After Hindemith had explained a complex point at length and asked for questions, Klemperer put his hand up and said in his umistakeable gravelly voice “Where is the lavatory?”.

Unfortunately, Hindemith drank too much and went completely mad.


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