Paul Hindemith, one of the most important composers of the early 20th century, dedicated much of his career to developing musical education in Turkey. He began life as a violinist in his native Germany, before moving onto composing and conducting. During his early career in the 1900s, he supported himself by playing in dance bands and musical-comedy groups.
In the 1930s, however, everything changed with a visit to Cairo and Ankara. Having been invited to the country by Turkey's President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a former military officer and a keen advocate of political, economic, and cultural reform to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern state. Hindemith established the Turkish Opera and Ballet, before taking on the task of preparing the Turkish musical education programme in 1935. The opening of the Ankara State Conservatory would not have been possible without his hard work and dedication.
His dedication to this cause is reflected in the blend of sincerity and joy in his compositions, which owe much to the baroque style. Writing both for large orchestral forces and small chamber ensembles, he frequently wrote music for a social or political purpose. His style rejected the notion of the tonal scale and used notes freely, yet it owed much to the fugal works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Enjoy this lovely recording of Hindemith's Sonatas for Winds and Piano, featuring all the instruments from our three-part series on the woodwind family (click the links below to find out more).
From our series on the Woodwind Family: