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Hindemith, Paul

Hindemith, Paul

Born in 1895


Inducted in 2001

As early as 1919, the young Paul Hindemith had composed Three Hymns to texts from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman in a German translation. In 1936 an official ban was declared in Germany on public performances of Hindemith's music. That very year the Hindemiths moved to Switzerland. Hindemith's American friends became concerned for his safety and instigated his emigration to the United States. He was invited to give a series of lectures and master classes at Yale, and they were such a success that he was offered a part-time Visiting Professorship, which he accepted. Later that year, in July and August, he spent teaching at the new summer music academy at Tanglewood. He taught there again the following summer, by which time he had accepted a full-time appointment as Professor of the Theory of Music at Yale. In this position he soon became the most sought-after theory and composition teacher in America. In spite of his heavy teaching load Hindemith produced an impressive corpus of masterpieces during his residency in the United States, receiving more commissions during this period than any other composer then living in the country, whether native, foreign or naturalized. He resigned from Yale as of June 1953 to focus his energy on composing and conducting. Being situated in Switzerland was highly advantageous for Hindemith in pursuing his conducting career, since he had more than enough concert engagements in Europe to guarantee a comfortable living and time to compose. Hindemith received numerous honors while living in the United States: Yale's Howland Memorial Prize Medal, membership in the Institute of Arts and Letters, an honorary Doctor of Music from the Philadelphia Academy of Music and Columbia University, honorary membership in the New York Philharmonic Society and the Bruckner Medal of Honor from the Bruckner Society of America.