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Composers Datebook: Hindemith's "Konzertmusik"

Today's Composers Datebook focuses on Hindemith's Konzertmusik, Op. 41, a fantastic piece for winds. We have posted on this piece here, but you should find the information below enlightening. You can find the text below and the audio clip. There is also some great commentary in the piece on how far band music has come since 1926.

Hindemith for Winds

In 1926 the German composer Paul Hindemith was the director of that year's Donaueschingen Music Festival, which, since its inception in 1921, had quickly established itself as an important showcase for new and progressive music.

For the 1926 Festival, Hindemith decided to spotlight a genre of music overlooked by many composers., namely music for wind bands, and contributed a work of his own, entitled Concert Piece for Wind Orchestra, which premiered on today's date in 1926, and was published as his Opus 41. The same concert also offered premiere performances of new band works by three other prominent European composers: Ernst Krenek, Ernst Pepping, and Ernst Toch.

The critics of the day opined that the music was interesting, but lamented that such talented composers would waste their time writing for bands.

In his book Winds of Change, a history of band music and its reception, Dr. Frank Battisti explains: "In 1926, serious works for band were of no interest to German and Austrian band directors, who preferred to continue performing the standard repertory of transcriptions, arrangements, and marches. Critics, after hearing these works, remained convinced that the wind band would never become a medium of artistic musical expression."

With the passage of time, and a dramatic change in the attitudes of band director and critics alike towards concert music for bands, Hindemith's 1926 concert programming seems downright prophetic.

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