Paul Hindemith: between the two world wars

During the 1920s Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) symbolised everything that was progressive in German music. He explored the potential of radio, electronic music and jazz, and he was feted at the Donaueschingen Festival.

Hindemith never lost sight of the human aspect in music and refused to accept a divide between composers, performers and listeners. Instead he advocated music that was practical, useful and playable. He was himself a brilliant violinist and violist.

At the age of only 20, Hindemith was appointed concertmaster (1st violinist) at Frankfurt Opera House. From 1923 to 1927 he lived in and wrote amongst others his opera Cardillac in the Kuhhirtenturm in Frankfurt. This tower opened to the public as a Hindemith museum in 2011. The Hindemith Institute is based in Frankfurt too. In 1927 Hindemith accepted a professor's post in Berlin. He lived at Brixplatz, where there is now a memorial plaque.

The Nazis condemned Hindemith's music as degenerate art and banned it from being performed or broadcast. In 1938 he and his wife emigrated via Switzerland to the USA, where his late symphonic works were composed. Hindemith taught at Yale University in New Haven until 1953. He spent his last years in Switzerland.

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