Monday, April 18, 2016

Hindemith and the Bassoon

Composer Paul Hindemith was an expert violist, but could coax sounds out of many instruments.

His wife at the piano in the photo above looks to be in pain! Has she banished his practicing of the flugelhorn to the bedroom?

One could argue about his bassoon embouchure as seen in the photo above, but I've heard that he actually could play his Sonate for Bassoon.

In fact, Hindemith had a long association with the Heckel firm. In order to help promote the Heckelphone, he wrote a Trio for Heckelphone, Viola and Piano. Legend has it that he received a Heckel Bassoon as his commission. Bret Pimentel, in his blog, however, states that Hindemith became familiar with the Heckelphone when visiting the factory to pick up his bassoon, so I guess the idea that his bassoon was a gift is not true.

Below is a photo of the trio personnel along with the Heckel family. This photo is taken from "Wilhelm Heckel, Six Generations Dedicated to Music", by Edith Reiter.

Hindemith remained in close touch with the Heckel family even after leaving Germany for the US. As a faculty member at Yale, he helped bassoon students there order bassoons from Heckel. The most famous example would be Paul Tucci, who later went on to become Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Symphony. Hindemith provided a letter of introduction for him to Heckel. Tucci became the proud owner of one of the finest 9000 series instruments, which he played in the Houston Symphony.

The three photos above came from a friend, pianist Jim Howsmon, who recently recorded the Bassoon Sonate with George Sakakeeny. It will be available soon on Oberlin Conservatory's record label. Jim sent me this article about Hindemith's Sonatas.

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