Hindemith 2020

"Paul Hindemith, Werkverzeichnis 1939-1954". © Fondation Hindemith, Blonay (CH)

The following is a guest post from Susanne Schaal-Gotthardt (Director, Hindemith Institute, Frankfurt am Main):

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) was a careful archivist during his lifetime: starting in his student days he kept catalogs of works in which he recorded information about the work, its creation, and its publication. Later, he frequently also noted the whereabouts of the sketches and autograph manuscripts. For the most part, these materials were kept in the archive of Schott in Mainz or in his own possession. But he gave some of them away as gifts during his lifetime, such as the autograph of the Kanonische Sonatine for two flutes op. 31, no. 2, which was written in the late summer of 1923 and which he dedicated to the founder of the Donaueschingen Festival, Maximilian Egon II, Prince of Fürstenberg, for his 60th birthday. In 1952 the autograph score of the Cello Concerto (1940) ended up as a present to the Hamburg Senate, which had awarded Hindemith the Bach Prize.

Two years previously, Hindemith had given a speech at the Hamburg Bach Festival entitled "Johann Sebastian Bach – Ein verpflichtendes Erbe" (Johann Sebastian Bach and the obligation of heritage). In the course of publishing his speech, he asked the Swiss doctor and autograph collector Robert Ammann (1886-1960) for a facsimile of a Bach letter kept in his collection. Ammann complied with Hindemith's request and as a gesture of appreciation the composer gave him some autograph sketches. They were taken from a ringed notebook entitled Skizzen 41-42, which included sketches to songs with piano accompaniment after German, French, English, and Latin poems. The following songs were sketched out on the pages given to Ammann: Trübes Wetter (Gottfried Keller), Wer wußte je das Leben recht zu fassen (August von Platen), Abendwolke (Conrad Ferdinand Meyer), O Grille, sing (Max Dauthendey), Ich will Trauern lassen stehn (anonymous), and Eau qui se presse (Rainer Maria Rilke).

Hindemith made fair copies of the German songs sketched here in July 1942 while at his American vacation spot in Chatham, Massachusetts and presented them to his wife at the beginning of August for her birthday. A few days later, he also made a fair copy of the French song. None of the songs notated in the Skizzen 41-42 notebook were published during Hindemith's lifetime.

The notebook, which contains 126 pages today, is preserved in the Hindemith Collection of the Hindemith Institute. The pages given to Robert Ammann are preserved in the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana of the Fondation Martin Bodmer (CH-CObodmer) in Switzerland.

Image: Page from the catalog of works with an entry concerning the gift of the cello concerto. 




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