Yale University Library


OHAM: Yehudi Wyner on Hindemith


Yehudi Wyner

with Caitriona Bolster

78 Lyon Street

New Haven, Connecticut 

June 18, 1975



Cassette Side a:                                                                                            pp. 1-21

Wyner's interest in studying with Hindemith--his rejection of Wyner--Donovan as a composition teacher--Donovan's contemporary techniques course--Wyner's compositions--Wyner's changing musical interests--Schrade's influence on Wyner--the general lack of interest in his music--the relationship of his musical career to his humanitarian ideals--a description of his classroom in Sprague Hall--as an energetic person--his refusal to call his students "composition" majors--the procedure in his class--his critiques of his students' compositions--his teaching--his disappointment that his students were ungrateful--his frustration with irresponsibility--his reaction to his students' work--his students' different ways of dealing with him--his lack of explanations--his overemphasis on craft--his reticence to discuss his own music--singing Gregorian chants in class--as an excellent conductor--his spontaneous energy--his basic approach to music--his influence on Wyner--the common ground shared by Bartók, Stravinsky, and Hindemith--Wyner's ideas about being a teacher and a musician.

Cassette Side b:                                                                                           pp. 22-44

Wyner's practical compositions--his humane attitude towards composition--his dislike of twelve-tone music--folk material in his compositions--the limitations of his music--performance of the Viola Sonata (1939) by Wyner and Hillyer--the problem of "bringing the surface alive" in performances of his music--his notions of sobriety--his viola playing--the lack of markings in his music--his criticism of Stravinsky--comparison between the sonatas for two pianos by Stravinsky and Hindemith--performance of these Two-Piano Sonatas in 1953 by Wyner and Boykan--as a conductor--shrinking away from a commitment to teach composition--comparison between Wyner's studies at Yale and Harvard--the excellent music courses at Harvard--as an indifferent teacher--the problems of "spending oneself" in teaching--Wyner's approach to composition--his influence on Wyner--Wyner's Theme and Variations for wind ensemble--difficult relationship with Wyner--Wyner wins the Rome Prize without his letter of recommendation--his feelings about Germany--his final explosion with Wyner.

Cassette Side c:                                                                                            pp. 44-59

Explanation of his anger with Wyner--his expectations from people--his reticence to show his personal side--his lack of interest in the American musical scene--his respect for Stravinsky's earlier pieces--his opinion of Bartók and Schoenberg--an encounter with Stravinsky--his energy--his competitiveness--Mrs. Hindemith--Wyner's personality--his opinion of cerebral, pre-compositional planning--the lack of discussion about his non-musical interests--his lack of interest in the work of Boulez and Cage--as a stage composer--his influence on American composers--the decline in interest in his music--his handful of great pieces--in comparison with Stravinsky, Bartók, and Schoenberg--his useful contributions to sonata literature--his recognizable style--the lack of inventiveness in his work--in comparison with Bach--his Mass.

Cassette Side d:                                                                                           pp. 59-68

His piece on a text by Stevenson--his extraordinary memory--as a walker--his view of himself as a composer--his ideas about discipline and composition--his opinion of working at an instrument--Wyner's Serenade for Strings--comparison between his composition process and Wyner's--the intolerance of different schools of composition for each other--his relationships with students Wyner and Powell--Wyner's satisfaction with his musical life.