Yale University Library


OHAM: Ralph Kirkpatrick on Hindemith


HINDEMITH PROJECT                           Interview no. 30/24


Ralph Kirkpatrick

with Caitriona Bolster

Stoeckel Hall

Yale University

New Haven, Ct.

March 11, 1975



Table of Contents


Tape A                                                                                                           pp. 1-14

Kirkpatrick’s autobiography--as a universal musician--anecdote about playing the zink--impact as a teacher on the American musical scene--self-sufficiency--person­ality--his lack of ability to sense what was going on inside another person--his contribution as a teacher--effect of his personality on Gertrude Hindemith--relationship with Kirkpatrick--beautiful performances on viola of the Sixth Brandenburg Concerto and a Bach cello suite--excellent performances of Gabrieli’s multi-choir works and Bach’s motet Singet dem Herrn--conducting Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms--his undistinguished homes in New Haven--luncheons at his house with guests such as Mendel, Krenek, Milhaud, and the Budapest Quartet--anecdote about "prepared piano" at Lewis and Jane Curtis’ party--painting backdrops for his farewell party--gregariousness--his refusal to write for harpsichord--excellent continuo realizations--stubborn­ness--his accurate criticisms of Kirkpatrick’s performances and realizations of Bach--helpful suggestions on terminology in the chapter on harmony in Kirkpatrick’s book on Scarlatti--dislike of Scarlatti--letter to Kirkpatrick after receiving the book--supper party after a Musica Viva concert--meeting Kirkpatrick by chance in a Vienna restaurant--steering clear of political involvement--reasons for the eclipse of his music--his music in comparison with Stravinsky’s--comparison of the two versions of Marienleben--Kirkpatrick’s view of Mathis der Maler--details surrounding the performance of the Biblical Sonatas--his dubious violin playing--as a violist--his superior choral conducting--working with Kirkpatrick on the Biber--conducting the Collegium--his strong feeling for style--Kirkpatrick’s view of his conducting--his uncanny serendipity--composers’ tendency to contradict their own markings--performance of his Mass in 1963--conducting When Lilacs Last, and the Bruckner Te Deum in Vienna--tendency to make unshakeable decisions--Mrs. Hindemith as a broken woman--extensive knowledge of past theorists--Georg Schünemann as director of the instrument collection at the Hochschule--piece for viola d’amore--playing old instruments--lack of political involvement--Krenek’ s criticism of him for not leaving Germany earlier--his only political comment to Kirkpatrick about Russian official art--Kirkpatrick’s view of his interest in the visual arts--success of Marienleben--Kirkpatrick’s speculations about the incompatibility of Hindemith and Rilke--collaboration with Kokoschka--relationship of Paul Klee’s theoretical writings to his--Kirkpatrick’s view of his book on Bach--German preface to Marienleben--Cardillac.

Tape B                                                                                                           pp. 14-27

Conscientious and thorough teaching--being in demand during his lifetime--neglect of his music in New Haven according to Kirkpatrick--lack of interest in contemporary music and art at Yale in 1940--lack of competent musicians at Yale in the 1940’s--conservatism of the Yale English department in the 1940’s--concerts at the Metropolitan in New York--Yale’s collection of instruments--lack of a budget for the collection--comparison between Yale and Harvard in the 1940’s--sabotage of his projects by colleagues--tension created by his presence--lack of tact--attitude towards Schoenberg--preference for organized music--choices of text influenced by Mrs. Hindemith--his one collaboration with Brecht--his beliefs in musical theory and their relationship to cosmology--Mrs. Hindemith’s Catholicism--description of his un-Stravinskian performance of Symphony of Psalms--hearing and conducting polyphonically--fully developed musical consciousness--comparison between Stravinsky’s humor and Hindemith’s--Reger’s bad taste--as a very wild and headstrong young person in Donaueschingen in the 1920’s--demolishing a piano with Willy Strecker--slaughtering a horse during a famine--talk at Jonathan Edwards College about his first visit to Europe after the war--break with his brother, Rudolf--Hindemiths’ and Schnabels’ spring festival with electric trains--Nicholas Nabokov and Tillman Merritt as possible references--possible interviewees--Kirkpatrick’s opinion of his keyboard writing and his fugal writing--Ludus Tonalis--Kirkpatrick’s appreciation of The Four Temperaments and the Mass--his situation as a dramatic composer.