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Wall Street Journal: Tuning Up to Pay Tribute to a Master

Yalies play Paul Hindemith at Carnegie Hall Nov. 22
November 21, 2013

Hindemith_teaching_SpragueNo matter what they play, most young musicians at some point study the work of the 20th-century composer Paul Hindemith.

“Just about every instrument has a Hindemith sonata,” said David Shifrin, a clarinetist and professor at the Yale School of Music. “He wrote such a broad cross-section of music.”

Hindemith, who lived from 1895 to 1963, was principally a violist, but could play virtually every instrument he wrote for. Over the decades, his composition style changed from romantic to modern, emphasizing counterpoint, but he also created comic works, such as a parody of a string quartet or a takeoff on Wagnerian opera. Born in Germany, he came to the U.S. in 1940 and found a musical home at Yale, where he taught from 1940 to 1953.

On Friday, at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, a group of Yale professors, alumni and students will perform works by Hindemith and his former students, including the composer Mitch Leigh, who penned “Man of La Mancha,” and pianist Yehudi Wyner, who will perform the New York premiere of his 2013 composition “Concordance for Piano and Strings.” Also slated is work by the late composers Lukas Foss, Alvin Etler and jazz pianist Mel Powell, who played frequently for Benny Goodman.

While Hindemith and his students’ music isn’t all in the same vein, what links it all is “process, discipline, structure and understanding the architecture of the music,” said Mr. Shifrin, who serves as the artistic director of Yale in New York, a series that brings the school’s musical talent to the city.

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