The Music and Music Theory of Paul Hindemith

The Music and Music Theory of Paul Hindemith

Simon Desbruslais


Boydell Press



A detailed study of the well-known, yet poorly understood, music theory of composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963).
The music theory of composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), originally entitled Unterweisung im Tonsatz, is well known, yet poorly understood. This book provides a critical engagement with Hindemith's Unterweisung, particularly concerning its relationship to existing acoustic music theories. By examining different Unterweisung-versions, it charts the evolution of Hindemith's use of language and mode of communication, including his reference to polytonality, atonality, Fuxian species counterpoint, and avoidance of existing music for his examples. It also elaborates the source material on which the theory is based, using a reconstruction of Hindemith's personal library.
Central to the book is the relationship of Hindemith's Unterweisung to his compositional practice. Hindemith's fascination with the challenges of music theory falls into a middle period in his oeuvre, enabling profitable comparisons with his compositional practice both before and after his theory-making. The book also comprises a detailed discussion of Hindemith's theoretical and compositional legacy. Beginning with an overview of existing polemics, it draws together unpublished materials from the Yale Hindemith Institute with reminiscences from former students to construct an Unterweisung reception history. The book shows that, while many areas of Hindemith's theory have been overtaken by recent interests in music theory that relate to cognition and geometry, his influence has been deeply felt.

SIMON DESBRUSLAIS is Lecturer in Music and Director of Performance at the University of Hull and an internationally acclaimed trumpet soloist.

Click here to find the translation of Adorno's Ad Vocem Hindemith


17 black and white, 213 line illustrations
358 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783272105, February 2018
eBook, 9781787441835, February 2018
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS041000, MUS007000
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Table of Contents

An Unterweisung Critical Commentary
Hindemith's Fourths
Stylistic Borrowing and Pre-Unterweisung Music
The Ludus Tonalis as Quintessential Hindemith
Theory-based Revisions
Practical Music and Practical Textbooks
The Hindemith Legacy