Monday, March 25, 2013

Germany: Paul Hindemith

Germany issued this stamp (Scott 1910) of Paul Hindemith on 9 November 1995 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. The stamp image include a profile of the composer against a plain solid color background; no organ is referenced.

However, Hindemith composed a very small handful of organ works. The three sonatas for organ are staples of many organists. Hindemith was an active musician during the period when Nazism was in the ascendancy in Germany, and his relationship with it is complicated. Ultimately he left Germany for Switzerland for a period of time. Hindemith was also in Turkey and finally the US; he became a US citizen for a time. In 1953 he returned to Switzerland and ultimately died in Frankfurt, Germany at age 68.

Hindemith was a very detailed composer with meticulous markings in his scores, such that while the music itself may not be considered overwhelming, the performer has no question about how to perform it. He was a compelling music theorist who wrote a text describing his composing method, and a set of piano fugues outlining the same. In addition to the three sonatas there is a concerto for organ with orchestra written in 1962. He wrote music for vocalists and choral ensembles, but none with organ accompaniment.

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