Writing sample by Aaron Grad.
© 2012 Aaron Grad. All rights reserved.

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Kammermusik No. 1, Op. 24, No. 1

PAUL HINDEMITH
Born November 16, 1895 in Hanau, Germany
Died December 28, 1963 in Frankfurt

Instrumentation: Flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, percussion, accordion, piano and string quartet

Duration: Approximately 16 minutes

Composed: 1922

First Performance: July 31, 1922 in Donaueschingen, Germany

Origins: Hindemith debuted the Kammermusik No. 1 at the second annual Donaueschingen Festival, a pioneering venue for new music. He dedicated the work to the Prince of Furstenberg, the patron who founded the festival. This performance helped launch Hindemith’s international career.

Listen for:

I. A sizzling minute of music that lives up to its tempo marking: Very fast and wild!

II. Figures that mock ceremonial and serious musical traditions—a hallmark of Weimar-era irony

III. The austere counterpoint, line against line, of a reduced ensemble.

IV. The contrast of flowing, watery textures (including muted strings, slurred woodwinds, and trilling piano) offset by brittle interjections.

What was the Weimar era?

The Weimar Republic held power in Germany from 1919 until 1933, and under its rule arts and culture exploded in a freewheeling “golden age” of creativity. Key Weimar-era figures included the composers Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill, the artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, the writers Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann, the filmmaker Fritz Lang, and the architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, a design school which became a hub for artists of the period. In the wake of World War I, Weimar-era artists rejected the grandiosity of the Romantic age in favor of clean lines, incisive expression and bold politics.

The Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany, designed by Walter Gropius.