The ballets of Paul Hindemith are not that well-known in his musical compositions. Nevertheless, this book intends to attract more attention to the composer’s dance works by providing in-depth information on his ballets from the 1930s, namely Nobilissima Visione (1938) and Der Kinderkreuzzug (1939). By showing the origins, developments, and how these two pieces originally came from the same inception, the results of this research impart a deeper understanding and appreciation of these ballets. In Nobilissima Visione, the artistic collaboration and theatrical interpretations of both Hindemith and choreographer Léonide Massine on the life of St. Francis of Assisi are likewise compared and evaluated. In addition, the close study of the music sketches in Nobilissima Visione reveals how this ballet was possibly composed.
Nobilissima Visione and Der Kinderkreuzzug further share another common feature: both have detailed scenarios by Hindemith containing the composer’s indications as to where the actions in the text correspond to his music. Because of this text-tomusic connection, it is possible to explore Hindemith’s ideals and visualization of his dance works. This approach similarly emphasizes the significance of incorporating both musical and dance aspects in these investigations.
Including Hindemith’s last two ballet scenarios, namely Gefühlvolles Ende einer ruhmreichen Laufbahn (1939) and Das Gleichnis von den Blinden (1940), further provided valuable information on how the ballet scenarios from Hindemith had evolved, starting with his Nobilissima Visione drafts. Altogether, these ballet scenarios consistently demonstrate specific features and artistic inclinations. In particular, the composer’s personal goal to instruct the audience appears to be of primary importance.
PART ONE: Nobilissima Visione (1938)
1 The Beginnings
2 The Scenario Drafts
3 The Nobilissima Visione Music Sketches: a View into Hindemith’s Creative Process
4 Preparations and Performances
PART TWO: Der Kinderkreuzzug (1939) and the Later Ballet Scenarios: Defining the Visualized Dance and Expressive Gestures in Hindemith’s Ballet Works from the 1930s
1 Der Kinderkreuzzug (1939)
2. The Composer and His Dance