Yale University Library


OHAM: Richard French on Hindemith


HINDEMITH PROJECT               Interview no. 30/17


Richard French

with Caitriona Bolster

Stoeckel Hall

Yale University

New Haven, Ct.

February 7, 1975



Table of Contents



Tape A                                                                                                           pp. 1-13

Contact with French--Norton lectures--The Composer’s World--Harvard commissions Apparebit repetina dies for symposium--correspondence through Associated--chosen for commission--Copland commissioned to write an a cappella piece--requirements for pieces--choice of text from Oxford Book of Latin Verse--translation by Peter Elder--idea about quality works being instantaneously conceived--facility as a composer--anecdote about composing on train--Shaw conducts premiere of piece-- Copland attends symposium--absent from symposium--anecdote about viola recital in Cambridge--ability to cope with anything--as an excellent violist--extraordinary demands on himself--insisting that people put forth their very best--Norton lectures-- Stravinsky as first Norton lecturer--Stravinsky’s book, La Poetigue Musicale-- other Norton lecturers--his lectures anticlimactic after Stravinsky’s--problem of translating from German text to English--course in Cambridge--The Composer’s World--pleasant relationship with faculty at Harvard--problem with regulation that states that attendance is not required--anecdote about his publications at Tillman Merritt’s party--view of musicologists--foreword for Willi Apel’s book, French Secular Music.

Tape B                                                                                                           pp. 13-26

Apel’s career in Cambridge--interest in Medieval and Renaissance music--reticence about experiences in Germany in the 1930’s--recommending French for job at Associated--as the most important composer for Schott and Associated--Stravinsky’s relationship with Schott--opinion of younger composers--Ulysses Kay--general relations with Associated--Mrs. Bauer as a possible reference--German chauvinism-- Associated as an agent for Schott--description of the structure of Associated-- problems with alien property rights--negotiations done by his lawyer, Oscar Cox-- large number of copies sold by Associated--earning a large amount of money-- necessity of getting Mrs. Hindemith Out of Germany--annoyance at the US govern­ment for expropriating his property--reasons for taking up conducting--relationship with Associated--respect for Willy Strecker--incompetence of President of Associated, Merritt Tomkins--lack of respect for Tomkins.

Tape C                                                                                                           pp. 27-41

Respect for Bauer--as a very egotistical person--manipulative dealings with Associated-- as a difficult person to work with--indirectness--French’s view of Mrs. Hindemith--as a very picky person--forcing Tomkins out of the Presidency--Henry Cowell as a difficult person to deal with--relationship with Charlie Wall, new President of Associated--playing the injured party--problems getting placed in a conducting job--alienating himself from people--rudeness--reputation as a conductor in the USA in comparison with Stravinsky--strong feeling about Bruckner’s music--decline of his music in the USA after he left--frequent performances of his music in the USA while he lived here--anger that Sarah Caldwell received permission to do the American premiere of Mathis--refusal to investigate Caldwell or to go see the performance--stubbornness--Caldwell’s performance of Mathis goes well--Caldwell’s ad hoc opera company--performing rights--composer’s lack of control over performing rights-- business dealings at Associated--lack of confidence in American publisher’s crafts­manship--comparison of German and American publishers--Mrs. Hindemith as a horrid person--annoyance at the US government for holding their money.


Tape D                                                                                                           pp. 41-46

Canon performed for Elizabeth Coolidge’s birthday in Sanders Theater--the business of commissions--Bauer as an intermediary--fee for Apparebit--symphony commissioned for Pittsburgh Orchestra--as a person with strong German roots--bypassed by the European avant garde--desire to retain a reputation as a senior citizen of German music.