Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hindemirth Day

Following on my previous post, I'm now three days beyond Hindemith's actual birthday (Nov. 16) and a day past my own, but a friend's Facebook greeting inspired me to add to my slowly growing series of "Happy Birthday" settings. Just wish I'd thought to do it on Saturday.

This post will be brief because this is a very simple setting, though I'm pleased with how well it works. The accompaniment is simply the opening four measures of the exhausting and brutal piano part to Hindemith's trombone sonata. It's a work which I played a few times back in the day and which, to be honest, had a lot to do with my own negative attitudes about the composer, although I've softened a bit on that. Anyway, I simply replaced the original trombone part with the more familiar birthday tune, added a final F Major chord, and there you have it. The piano's dotted rhythms work well, there are some pitch connections that make sense, and there's something satisfying about the piano left hand arriving at m.4 as the birthday tune is held before its final phrase.

This is already more Hindemith content on the blog than I'd have ever anticipated, but maybe it will lead to more. After all, a little less than two years ago, I finished up an unexpected series of encounters with Barber.

Here are links to more re-imaginings of the famous tune. [YouTube Playlist]

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Man beHind a Myth

It's been awhile since I posted here for reasons I might get around to writing about some time. But I still find occasional inspiration in the odd Facebook conversation. And many of my Facebook conversations are odd. Also, many of my Facebook conversations involve me making fun of violas, Haydn, and Hindemith. I recently proposed that some of my friends (including a violist) who think highly of these two H-men should look to reconfigure Boston's venerable Handel and Haydn Society as the Hindemith and Haydn Society, replacing the annual Messiah performances with the crowd-pleasing tones of Das Unaufhörliche. Who would turn down a chance to see a German oratorio with a title that translates as "The Incessant?"

And the truth is, I appreciate plenty of things about Haydn, Hindemith, and even - horrible as it is to have to hear - the viola. But it's more fun to make fun, so when my violist friend tried to say his deep admiration for Hindemith is not just a function of being a violist (Hindemith was a violist who wrote significantly in alto clef), I said "Ha," and also created this useful graphic to illustrate the Hindemithian hypnosis that is likely at play:

A few days and comments down the road, friend violist offered this amusing graphic which alludes to the composer's intensely critical personality:

The idea of Virtual Hindemith judging immediately brought to mind a memorable Tom Cruise scene from one of my three favorite movies of all time. (Any chance we can get Cruise to star in a Hindemith biopic?) And thus, it wasn't long before I was doing my own video mashup of a stern Hindemith photo with Tom's hyper-focused delivery. My interest in musical mashups should be well-known to anyone who's read 0.3% of this blog, but it was fun to explore the mashup idea in the visual realm. I think it really works!