Kelly Rizzo
Theory and Practice: Hindemithe's Piano Sonata #2

During the early 1900’s, Germany housed a composer by the name of Paul Hindemith.  This man became known throughout the music world as a leading composer and music theorist as well as a talented performer and conductor.  In 1927 Paul Hindemith began teaching at the Berlin Musikhochschule as professor of composition.  It was here he felt that he could not teach his pupils how to write good music, but only teach them how to deal with certain musical concepts.  He felt he could not teach one how to be inspired, to find purpose for writing and how to write melodies and compositions from the heart.  At this time he started to research and ended up writing a trio of books called The Craft of Musical Composition.  The first book of this series revolves around Hindemith’s own theoretical practices.  These theories are based on acoustical findings that relate to the overtone series and, what Hindemith calls ‘combination tones’.  Through this he establishes a hierarchy of related tones and intervals that lead to his own methods on classifying chords, figuring chordal analysis, proper harmonic movement and structure, and guidelines for melodic writing.  While writing his book, Hindemith continued to compose, and during the peak of his book writing, he wrote three piano sonatas.  More specifically, Piano Sonata No. 2 written in G is the shortest and least intense of his three piano sonatas.  Even though critics of Hindemith protest that his theories are not evident in his music, research and observation have confirmed that the practices and theories of Hindemith’s writing are evident and come alive in his second piano sonata.

Faculty Mentor: John Schuster-Craig

Page last modified July 14, 2009