Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Notes by TŌN violist Leonardo Vásquez Chacón
One of his most commonly played works, the Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber by German composer Paul Hindemith is closely tied to America. Finalized in 1943 while in the United States, Hindemith is said to have had the sound of the virtuosic American orchestras of the time in his head while writing it. Perhaps this is why this work is also one of only a few where the composer decided to use the English language when giving it its title. The work starts with a lot of character and brilliance, but how much of it is Hindemith and how much of it is Weber? Well, the original themes do come from a play that Carl Maria von Weber wrote in the early 19th century, but most of what you hear is Hindemith’s incredibly creative mind. You will hear almost every instrument of the orchestra being showcased at some point, almost as if the melodies escape from one and jump to the other.
The movements are in a pretty traditional format: an agile Allegro, a playful Scherzo (that will definitely stay in your ear for the rest of the day), a slower Andantino, and a closing March. I should add that if you have heard other works by Hindemith or heard what people say in the streets about him, then you might be disappointed. I say this because he is sometimes talked about as a very dry, academic, and overall “boring” composer, but this is not the case in the Symphonic Metamorphosis. In fact, Hindemith is one of the most eclectic composers, with a musical style that changed immensely through his years of composing. Personally, I absolutely love the piece and I am sure you will agree with me after hearing it. We have really enjoyed preparing this work for you so please enjoy!