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Paul Hindemith: Tuttifäntchen

In their Christmas concerts these days, the Elbland Philharmonie Sachsen under the direction of Ekkehard Klemm and the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under the direction of Hermes Helfricht will be performing the suite to the opera Tuttifäntchen by Paul Hindemith.

Tuttifäntchen is a Christmas tale with song and dance in three pictures, which Hindemith wrote in 1922 with the authors Hedwig Michel and Franziska Becker. In it, Punoni, the director of a Punch and Judy show, orders a new puppet from the widowed woodcarver Master Tuttifant shortly before Christmas. During the work, the puppet comes to life, a miracle that only happens once every 1000 years. The new puppet is affectionately called Tuttifäntchen, but because he has no heart, he only causes mischief. In the end, however, he not only finds his mother, the fir tree, in the forest, but also indirectly helps little Trudel to get a new mother. Hindemith dresses this fable in fresh music without lapsing into fairytale naivety and sentimentality.

Tuttifäntchen by Paul Hindemith: Christmas dance of the wooden dolls

The concert suite outlines the story of Tuttifäntchen in eleven movements. The traditional and simple pieces are partly based on folk and Christmas songs. Hindemith also integrated elements of light music, such as a foxtrot. In a way, the Tuttifäntchen Suite is therefore reminiscent of Peter Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, which is also particularly popular at Christmas time. 

How many composers can still do this at all, dare to do it: to simply make music without any claim to artistic fame, with very limited means, partly in voluntary dependence on the precious commodity of folk music, to sing frankly and freely about the Christmas tree, to conjure up wooden buffoons, devils and the beating heart of a child in simple, yet very unique sounds? (Karl Holl in a review of the premiere in 1922)

In addition to the performances of the suite from Tuttifäntchen, a staged production of the stage version can also be seen at the Estates Theater in Prague in December.


Paul Hindemith: Composer Profile 

Tuttifäntchen Suite: Work Details and Online Score 

Elbland Philharmonie Sachesn Website 

Beethoven Orchester Bonn Website

photo: Narodni divadlo / Serghei Gherciu