Hyperion Records

1936; Langsam – Ruhig bewegt – Lebhaft – Choral 'Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit'; composed on 21 January 1936 to mark the death that day of King George V and first performed by the composer with the BBC Orchestra under Adrian Boult the following day

'Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music, Vol. 3 – Music for viola and orchestra' (CDA67774)
Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music, Vol. 3 – Music for viola and orchestra
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67774 
Track 9 on CDA67774 [7'46]

On 21 January 1936, while Hindemith was in London preparing to give Der Schwanendreher its UK premiere in a BBC concert the following day, King George V died. Protocol demanded that the BBC’s programme should be replaced by appropriate funeral music. Nevertheless the BBC authorities—especially the music director Edward Clark and Adrian Boult, who was to conduct the concert—were keen that Hindemith should still be allowed to take part. It was decided that he should write and perform a memorial piece, specially written for the occasion. For six hours Hindemith engaged in what he later described as some fairly heavy mourning, with a team of copyists to transcribe the music that resulted. Thus was born Trauermusik (Music of Mourning) for viola and string orchestra, which Hindemith duly premiered in the national broadcast with the BBC Orchestra under Boult.

Despite the circumstances, Trauermusik has justly become one of Hindemith’s most celebrated works, for it is a shining example of an ‘occasional composition’ that far transcends its occasion and makes a distinct contribution to the general repertoire. Closely allied in tone to the more reflective portions of the opera Mathis der Maler, it is a grave, shapely and eloquent lament, with a special quality of intimacy. The single movement falls into four sections, the first closely modelled (though without quotation) on the ‘Entombment’ music from Mathis. A second section, in a serene 12/8 pulse, seems to evoke old folksong melodies, either English or German. A livelier, more determined section follows, but its energy soon dissipates into renewed expressions of lamentation. The work ends with a free elegiac invention on J S Bach’s chorale Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit (Herewith I step before thy throne), well known in English churches as the Psalm tune ‘The Old Hundredth’. Hindemith considered that Bach’s text was a very suitable one for music about kings, but these final bars, appropriate for any obsequy, are among the most moving music he ever wrote.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2011

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67774 track 9
Recording date
1 April 2010
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
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