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Concerts explore the legacy of Paul Hindemith Nov. 21 & 22

Program features three pieces by Hindemith alongside music by his students Alvin Etler, Lukas Foss, Mitch Leigh, Mel Powell, and Yehudi Wyner
November 8, 2013

YNY-HindemithThe Yale School of Music will explore the legacy of Paul Hindemith (1895–1963) in two concerts on November 21 and 22. Hindemith, an innovative composer and theorist as well as a passionate educator, served on the Yale School of Music faculty 1940–53 and left a legacy of invention and exploration that still characterizes the School’s programs.

The Legacy of Paul Hindemith commemorates sixty years since the composer’s stay in New Haven and fifty years since his death, with a program that presents his own compositions side-by-side with music by his Yale students. The program, which is part of the Yale in New York series, will be presented in New Haven on November 21 and in New York City on November 22; details are below.

Last season, Yale in New York presented “Hindemith: Master and Prankster,” showcasing the humorous side of the composer’s early works. This fall’s program features three diverse Hindemith compositions, including the rarely-performed Sonata for Four Horns, written at Yale. The piece will be introduced by jazz horn pioneer Willie Ruff ’53BM, ’54MM, a YSM alumnus and current faculty member who studied under Hindemith and participated in the composition’s first read-through.

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Hindemith on the steps of Sprague Hall on the Yale campus

Two works from Hindemith’s Opus 24 will bookend the program: Kleine Kammermusik for wind quintet, and the jazz-influenced Kammermusik No. 1, written for flute, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, harmonium, piano, string quartet, and percussion.

The three Hindemith works will be interspersed with compositions from five musicians who studied with him at Yale.

Alvin Etler (1913–1973), who joined the YSM faculty in 1942 as conductor of the Yale Bands and studied with his colleague Hindemith for two years, is represented by his Suite for flute, oboe, and clarinet. Another piece for winds is the 1985 Woodwind Quintet by Mel Powell ’52BM (1923–1998), a jazz pianist prodigy who then immersed himself in classical music.

Lukas Foss (1922-2009) studied with Hindemith at Tanglewood in the summer of 1939 and then followed Hindemith to Yale, where he studied for a year as a special student. In 1991, Foss received an honorary degree from Yale. The concert will include his Three American Pieces for violin and piano.

Mitch Leigh (’51BM, ’52MM) also embraced his teacher’s philosophy of Gebrauchsmusik (music for use), as evidenced by his celebrated work as a theatrical composer for such productions as Man of La Mancha as well as his success in commercial production. On the program is “The Impossible Dream,” the iconic song from Man of La Mancha.

The program features the Connecticut and New York premieres of Concordance, a new piano quartet by Yehudi Wyner (’50BA, ’52BM, ’53MM), who not only studied at Yale but returned to teach at the School of Music 1963–77. After the quartet’s premiere earlier this year, the Boston Globe called it an “eloquently contemplative new work.” Wyner will play the piano part in his own piece.

The preview concert takes place Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, New Haven, CT). Admission is free.

In New York, the performance is Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 pm in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (7th Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, New York, NY). Tickets for the Carnegie Hall performance are available online, through CarnegieCharge at 212 247-7800, or at the box office (57th Street & 7th Avenue).

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