Paul Hindemith's Philosophy of Music and the Role of The Four Temperaments

October 1, 2011

Paul Hindemith formulated his philosophy of music upon two "basic and unalterable musical values," the one, Augustinian, the other, Boethian. He defined the latter as the "power of music, its ethos . . . brought into action upon our mind"; the former, he stated, engages "our mind [which] absorbs music and transforms it into moral strength."1 He described these values as extremes, but not as dichotomies—which would be mutually exclusive—and dismissed all other ideas as derivatives, including his own speculations on the disciplines of aesthetics, philosophy, and sociology.2 His strong, decisive language clearly defines what he believed to be a composer's realistic objective: to choose one of these two paths in order to shape the resulting musical experience for the betterment of the performers and listeners.

What Hindemith truly desired, however, could be achieved only in "a better world," a world in which one could "see the fusion of both doctrines in a single piece of music and its perfect appreciation by performers and listeners who in their noble and understanding fervor do justice to both."3 When examined in the light of his composition for piano and strings, Theme with Four Variations according to the Four Temperaments of 1940, however, this remark invites scrutiny of the work's stated symbolic corporeal elements, bodily fluids and their essence, and, until recently, their unknown connection to its incorporeal ones, which constitutes a hidden statement of faith.4 With The Four Temperaments, Hindemith realized his dream of musical expression some twelve years before publishing the prose expression of his philosophy, and he appears to have known it. As he stated in a letter to his publisher Ernest Voigt within days of completing the score, "the entire thing is quite good and worthy of a better cause (!)."5 The subtle parenthetical exclamation indicates insider information shared between the two men, which Voigt would have understood immediately.

In this essay I demonstrate the significance of Hindemith's The Four Temperaments for the development of his philosophy of music as it was articulated in A Composer's World in 1952. Because Augustinian ideas figure prominently in Hindemith's thinking, two questions present themselves: do any music-philosophical writings in the modern tradition between 1800 and 1950 foreshadow his work; and (2) might they have directly influenced it?6 Thus, I begin with an examination of Book 1 of Ferdinand Hand's treatise Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Aesthetics of Musical Art, or The Beautiful in Music) of 1837, the groundbreaking work in music aesthetics. I comment briefly on the importance of Joseph Adolf Hanslick, father of the nineteenth-century critic Eduard Hanslick, as a first source of influence on his son's treatise Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (On the Musically Beautiful) of 1854, and the relationship of the treatise to the broader tradition of music philosophy and aesthetics in the nineteenth century. Next, I focus on the intellectual spiritualism promulgated in the papal encyclical Aeterni Patris of Leo XIII, issued in 1879, and introduce Paul Claudel and Jacques Maritain as two twentieth-century proponents of Augustinian philosophy and Thomist theology whose thinking influenced Hindemith. I discuss The Four Temperaments as a historically important element in human science and within the context of Hindemith's activities immediately preceding and following completion of the score. I summarize the work's salient characteristics, including its unique formal and tonal designs, some of which have relevance for the composer's revision of his song cycle Das Marienleben (original, 1923; rev. ed., 1948). Finally, I link Hindemith's thought to that of Thomas Aquinas.

Ferdinand Hand and Aesthetics of Musical Art I

Established in eighteenth-century German philosophical thought through the work of Alexander Baumgarten, aesthetics, or the scientific study of sensory-emotional values, became closely aligned with philosophy of art. A philosophical theory of the "Beautiful" had not yet been connected to musical thought until Ferdinand Gotthelf Hand (1786–1851) published the first book of his Aesthetics of Musical Art in 1837. A German classical scholar and music enthusiast, Hand taught philosophy and Greek literature at the University of Jena from 1817 until his death in 1851, three years before Eduard Hanslick wrote On the Musically Beautiful.

In Aesthetics of Musical Art, Hand distinguishes the music of humans from that of nature in general, noting that its physical properties––tone and rhythm––are scientifically observable and measureable in human as well as in non-human music making. However, music created by humans constitutes sound that is readily recognizable by and affective in humans, whereas birdsong communicates nothing intelligible to humans, who by their nature neither produce nor comprehend it. Hand also draws attention to an interesting detail: the intellectual capacity that humans alone possess, which allows them to appreciate arsis and thesis and, thus, to use the initial incomplete musical measure (anacrusis) and comprehend its relation to the work as a whole. Hand differentiates music philosophy from its counterpart in art––which relies on visual stimulation. Finally, using words such as free will, religion, spirit, soul, and the divine in relation to intellectualism, he juxtaposes human concepts with the divine as essential for achieving the ideal in music. The ease with which Hand blends these last two points is illustrated in the following passage:

The formative arts give body to ideas, and strive thus to humanize the Divine; but music, on the contrary, seeks to change the Sensuous into the Spiritual, and to transform the Human into the Divine: therein it is assisted by the finest and an invisible material, with which it creates ethereal forms, that no eye may perceive, but which the soul, as it were, exhales; it resolves the Spacial [sic] into Temporal, the Passive into Activity, and leads to ideal life and freedom, in which finer spirits are given over to the enjoyment of Infinity. . . . In the activity of the spirit there are central points from which music proceeds in the purest, greatest abundance, and being heard, penetrates the most deeply and excites the most powerfully. These are Religion, and Love in its diverse forms.7

Here the word sensuous refers to sensibility, that capacity which allows us to perceive through the five senses––sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. If nothing further acts upon our sensory stimulation to enhance or elevate our initial response, that stimulus remains at a basic, physical level, and the reaction also remains at that same low level. If, however, the intellect engages in the process, humans also have the capacity to will something greater to act upon the mind. This transformation from human to divine forms the crux of Hindemith's philosophy and manifests itself perfectly in The Four Temperaments, where the sensory experience through the temperaments (corporeal) enters the intellectual gateway to the mind and then proceeds to the soul (incorporeal), and finally moves toward the divine.

A comparison of Hand's thoughts with M. C. D'Arcy's commentary on Augustinian philosophy reveals a strong connection between them:

Man is more than his body, more than his intellect; he is a force of knowledge which is will or love. Consequently he is restless and in motion until he find[s] peace, a peace of understanding and delectation. The aim of philosophy is not a dry inventory of the nature of being, but a consummation in an ideal life. . . . this in the moral order is beatitude and in the intellectual it is wisdom, and both are summed up in Charity [Love].8

Thus, Hand's aesthetic differs from what Friedrich Nietzsche referred to later in the century as human vanity or "the cult of genius,"9 which Carl Dahlhaus described as "the heart of the 'aesthetic religion' of the nineteenth century."10 In fact, a brief critique of Dahlhaus's thoughts on the reception of Hand's work bears on the current project and deserves mention at this time.

Perhaps no one in recent memory has written more than Dahlhaus (1928–1989) on the complex topic of music aesthetics. Early in his career, Dahlhaus investigated the origins of musical aesthetics and voiced his doubts: "Esthetics of music is open to suspicion: is it mere speculating, remote from its object, inspired by philosophical ideas more than by musical experience?"11 Some years later, he commented on Hand's Aesthetics of Musical Art, describing it as "historically significant insofar as, lacking the prejudice of philosophical demands or unusual musical judgments, it represents the 'normal awareness,' so to speak, of educated people around 1840."12 Two years later, however, he denigrated it with the nebulous label: "the nearest candidate for a Biedermeier aesthetic," which he admitted had "left little imprint on the history of ideas."13 What was it about Hand's Christian approach to philosophy and music that led Dahlhaus to cast Aesthetics of Musical Art variously? Did he intend to reinforce a negative reaction to religion in philosophical thought that prevailed in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth?

In addition to its explication of particular fundamental music elements, Hand's Aesthetics of Musical Art carries forward a long line of Christian philosophical thought also evinced in the thought of Augustine. Unfortunately, Hand's treatise has been largely overlooked or dismissed in favor of the more secular thought of Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and their followers.14 In an age when local and national governments across Europe and elsewhere made it unpopular to be associated with the Roman Catholic Church, anyone espousing philosophical ideas endorsed by it found themselves blocked from the mainstream.

In 1881, for example, the daily newspaper Brooklyn Eagle reported on a lecture given at the Chestnut Street Club in Boston by the Scottish-American philosopher Thomas Davidson: "This gentleman is well known in learned circles in Rome and Germany as a Greek scholar of considerable distinction. He tells his hearers that Italian philosophy has been ignored and neglected for hardly any other reason than because Italy is a Catholic country."15 In the same year, the well-known German historian and Catholic Ludwig Pastor left Germany during the Kulturkampf and moved to Austria in order to pursue a university teaching career, although in Innsbruck he also faced opposition because of his religious affiliation.16 Somehow Hand's affirmation of religion as an element of his music philosophy and aesthetics survived the 1800s and resonated in Hindemith's philosophy. Hindemith acknowledged the "serious attempt [by believers] to coordinate music with the theses of the Christian creed"; he strongly endorsed Augustine's "most intelligent analysis of musical perception and understanding," and his approach as "the best moral, musical, and theological foundation for the development of religious [my italics] music," but also for the benefit of secular music.17

During the nineteenth century, intellectual attacks on Christianity came from all sides, as subversive political maneuvering for independence from the Church met with strong resistance from the Pope. Despite his initial liberality, Pius IX (papacy from 1846 to 1878) encountered strongly negative responses from heads of government, which caused him to harden his own stance and approach negotiations more conservatively. In his thirty-two years as the head of the Catholic Church, he refused to cede hegemony to civil authority across much of Europe, as well as in Russia and the British Isles. When he issued his proclamation on the subject of papal infallibility, leaders everywhere speculated on the possibility of a sweeping initiative from Rome to overthrow existing governments. Counter-measures by civil and military authorities included widespread religious persecution consisting of burdensome taxation by the one, ahead of the purging of Catholic clergy, religious, and seminarians from entire countries on the other. By the 1870s, a systematic plan for toppling the Church appeared to be in place, one that followed a series of well-ordered steps usually disguised as laws: (1) nullify extant treaties and privileges and enact new rules to empower secular authority over ecclesiastical matters; (2) banish the head of the diocese; (3) forbid local priests and religious from contacting him; (4) convert sacred educational institutions to secular ones; (5) confiscate the Church's property and oversee its finances; (6) filter any communication with the Holy See through a state-approved committee, pseudo-bishop or -priest; and (7) banish, incarcerate, or execute resisters. For their part, intellectuals questioned the Church's position on the role of science in a steadily modernizing society, misunderstanding and misinterpreting official Papal documents as their purposes dictated. The discord between the intellectuals and the Church might also explain one author's decision to "secularize" his well-known, mid-nineteenth-century treatise: Vom Musikalisch-Schönen.

Eduard Hanslick and On the Musically Beautiful

I will not attempt to recapitulate or summarize the myriad of commentaries on Eduard Hanslick's treatise On the Musically Beautiful (1854).18 Instead, I draw attention to two important points about it: (1) the primary source of his philosophical training and (2) the purpose behind his work. These seemingly banal details offer additional clues to the continuation of a path begun in Ferdinand Hand's music-aesthetical discourse that needed to be hidden or disguised in order to be acceptable to intellectuals in the mid-nineteenth century.

Prior to studying philosophy at the University of Prague, Eduard Hanslick experienced Augustinian philosophy and Thomist theology under the supervision of his father, Joseph Adolf Hanslick (1785–1859). Earlier, the elder Hanslick had entered a seminary and prepared for ordination to the priesthood, whereby the foundation of his studies was based on the thought of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Ultimately he left the seminary and married; however, he pursued an academic position in philosophy and aesthetics, and he exposed Eduard to these two disciplines at an early age. The elder Hanslick continued to guide Eduard during his studies at the university, which one author has described as "actually more theological than philosophical."19

The echoes of Eduard's classical studies resonate in Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, although his rhetoric lacks the vision of Augustine, the profundity of Thomas Aquinas, and the elegance of Hand. Writing about the subjective impression of music, Hanslick stated that, "without spiritual ardor, nothing great or beautiful has ever been accomplished in this life."20 His understanding of the connection between the body and the soul becomes apparent in his explanation of the musically beautiful, the loftier analogy of which can be found "in architecture, in the human body, or in a landscape, which likewise have a primitive beauty of outline and color (setting aside the soul, the spiritual expression)."21 Hanslick knew he must exclude the soul from any discussion of the primitive, because the primitive cannot engage the intellect without an act of human will. Once activated, the soul, by reason of its properties, possesses the ability to move from sensory stimulation through several portals until it attains the realm of the spiritual, which is not necessarily the same as the realm of the divine.

When Hanslick addresses the effect of music upon feeling, his ideas approach Augustinian thought. "The intense feelings which music awakens in us and all the moods . . . into which it lulls us while we daydream": he states, "these we by no means wish to minimize. Indeed, it belongs to the most beautiful and redeeming mysteries that, by the grace of God, art is able to call forth such other-worldly stirrings in us,"22 something of the divine. Elsewhere he proposes, "Whatever else in music seems to portray specific states of mind is symbolic. . . . Tones, like colors, possess symbolic meanings intrinsically and individually . . . a power which is by nature already in a mysterious connection with certain mental states."23 In the intrinsic force where will ascends to redeeming mysteries by engaging the intellect, the mind desires the spiritual as an important step to achieving the ideal, which is divine. Or as Thomas Aquinas stated in his reflections on Augustine's treatise On Truth (De Veritatis), "'mind' and 'spirit' denote the essence and nothing but the essence of the soul,"24 and "the image of God in the soul is the mind."25

Hanslick revised On the Musically Beautiful ten times, always acknowledging its purpose in the work's subtitle as "a contribution towards the revision of the aesthetics of music."26 In the eighth edition (1891), rhetoric indicative of intellectual spiritualism not only gets lost in Hanslick's frequently rambling prose,27 it also tends to be mysteriously concealed amid a new emphasis on psychology.28 Yet when Hanslick shares his thoughts on "'content'" in music, he admonishes strongly, "We must take particular care not to use the word in its laudatory sense. From the fact that music has no content in the sense of 'subject matter,' it does not follow that music lacks substance [his italics]. Clearly, 'spiritual substance' is what those people have in mind who fight with sectarian ardor for the 'content' of music."29 At this point near the end of his treatise, he refers the reader to Chapter 3, "The Musically Beautiful."

Hanslick, whose life spanned the years 1825 to 1904, achieved a full-time position at the University of Vienna teaching music philosophy and history; he spent his adult life defending classically oriented German music of Beethoven and Brahms against the New German School led by Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. Hanslick may have framed his arguments in secular language in order to reinforce a paradigm shift away from ecclesiastical thought and control. He was, however, battling against multiple enemies. Or as Dahlhaus wrote, "Nature and history, tradition and progress, absolute and program music: these were the dichotomies that dominated musical thought in the 1850s and the decades beyond, forcing it to hew to party lines."30 Clearly, the religious bias levied against the academic work of Thomas Davidson and Ludwig Pastor in 1881 could already be subtly evinced in Hanslick's work, in the absence of the Augustinian and Thomist thinking his father had introduced to him.

Leo XIII and the Rebirth of Scholasticism

The German occupation of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), but especially the devastating two-month Commune that followed it, destroyed much of Paris. In the last days of the Commune, so-called petroliers ignited barrels of gasoline and set the city ablaze, while the Communards executed a number of important hostages, including the Archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy. All of this weighed heavily on the aging Pope, Pius IX, whose thirty-two-year reign is the longest in the Church's history. Following his death in February of 1878, the Conclave of Cardinals elected Joachim Pecci, who took the ecclesiastical name Leo XIII.

Sometimes referred to as the rebirth of Scholasticism, the Catholic Intellectual Renaissance arose during the reign of Leo XIII. Long admired throughout his career for his skill as an administrator and a diplomat, this Pontiff, unlike his predecessor, had a "perfect knowledge of modern society and its exigencies,"31 successfully negotiating the most difficult issues with great wisdom and a feeling of noblesse oblige.32 Similarly, his influence on scholarship has been widely acknowledged; in 1903 James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore summed it up eloquently:

There is not a single department in art, in literature, or in science that has not received fresh incitement to labor from his encouragement, has not been advanced by his generosity, and enriched by his liberality. In this respect, his influence has had nearly the force of a new Renascence . . . .
The Pope's order of the day to all students is almost on the level of a new Commandment[:] 'Search for the truth.' 33

Neo-Scholasticism aimed "to give new life to the study of Medieval systems and to make them 'meet the requirements of our day, to render them actual'" through the critical study of Medieval philosophers, as clarified through the lens of Thomas Aquinas.34

With Aeterni Patris, his encyclical on the restoration of Christian philosophy, Leo XIII reenergized the disciplines of Scholastic philosophy, metaphysics, and theology. He traced the development of Christian philosophy from its origins, when Christ affirmed the Apostle Simon Peter as the first Bishop of Rome, the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Acknowledging as sources the "Stromata" by Clement of Alexandria and "Epistola ad Gregorium" (letters to Gregory), the Pontiff identified the role of philosophy in relation to faith, stating, "In the first place, philosophy, if rightly made use of by the wise, in a certain way tends to smooth and fortify the road to true faith, and to prepare the souls of its disciples for the fit reception of revelation; for which reason, it is well called by ancient writers sometimes a steppingstone to the Christian faith, . . . ."35

Leo XIII acknowledges Augustine as a divinely selected bridge between the secular and the sacred, not unlike the one that occurred with the transformation of the pagan Saul to the Apostle Paul of Tarsus, whose letters in the Bible offer insight into human lifestyle.36 At the conclusion of this article, the Pope mentions Boethius and his position in relation to the work of Augustine, as the following except reveals:

Augustine would seem to have wrested the palm from all. Of a most powerful genius and thoroughly saturated with sacred and profane learning, with the loftiest faith and with equal knowledge, he combated most vigorously all the errors of his age. What topic of philosophy did he not investigate? What region of it did he not diligently explore, either in expounding the loftiest mysteries of the faith to the faithful, or defending them against the full onslaught of adversaries, or again when, . . . he laid the safe foundations and sure structure of human science, or followed up the reason, origin, and causes of the evils that afflict man? How subtly he reasoned on the angels, the soul, the human mind, the will and free choice, on religion and the life of the blessed, on time and eternity, and even on the very nature of changeable bodies. Afterwards . . . in the West, Boethius . . . following the doctrines of Augustine, added largely to the patrimony of philosophy.37

By holding up the exemplary teachings of Thomas Aquinas,38 who in the thirteenth century had brought Scholasticism to its apex by refining the writings of Augustine of Hippo, Leo XIII strengthened his position on Augustine as the wellspring of Christian philosophy, a definitive source. Everything in Augustine could be found in Thomas Aquinas, just as everything in Boethius also relied on the thought of Augustine. Perhaps the most striking of the thirty-four articles comprising Aeterni Patris is the twenty-third, in which Leo XIII called attention to the Church's struggles with non-believers, including elected or appointed government officials, who ordered the persecution, execution, or expulsion from their respective countries of clergy and religious.39 Although he cited the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer Martin Bucer as the referent, very likely the Pope had in his mind images of the execution of Georges Darboy, the Archbishop of Paris, along with other clergy and seminarians in the waning days of the Paris Commune of 1871. The subtlety in his writing becomes evident in the following passage:

A last triumph was reserved for [Thomas Aquinas]—namely, to compel the homage, praise, and admiration of even the very enemies of the Catholic name. For it has come to light that there were not lacking among the leaders of heretical sects some who openly declared that, if the teaching of Thomas Aquinas were only taken away, they could easily battle with all Catholic teachers, gain the victory, and abolish the Church. A vain hope, indeed, but no vain testimony.40

The directives in Aeterni Patris received reinforcement in the twentieth century with several documents promulgated by Leo XIII's successor. In rapid succession, Pope Pius X (papacy from 1903 to 1914) issued a series of related decrees and encyclicals outlining the need for strict adherence to the philosophical ideals of Augustine as refined in Thomist philosophy. Three of them, Lamentabili Sane, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, and Praestantia Scripturae appeared within months of each other in 1907.41 The Oath against Modernism, "to be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries," followed on 1 September 1910.42 Yet another document followed on 29 June 1914, Doctoris Angelici: Motu Proprio for Italy and the Adjacent Islands, to encourage the study of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas in Catholic Schools. By this time, the work of two important French philosophers, Paul Claudel and Jacques Maritain, had already changed course and turned toward Thomism. Their influence on the direction of music in the twentieth century has been too long underestimated, although a recent publication explores, among other things, the connection between Maritain and Thomism and the French composer Olivier Messiaen.43 Both Claudel and Maritain influenced Paul Hindemith during a formative period of his life: the one that has been described as neoclassical, and which followed the free thinking of the 1920s with the "New Objectivity" (Neue Sachlichkeit). Between 1930 and the early 1940s, evidence of their influence on Hindemith's work can be found in The Four Temperaments and its connection to his extended revision project involving his song cycle Das Marienleben.

Paul Claudel and L'Annonce faite à Marie

In 1894, the French diplomat, poet, and philosopher Paul Claudel (1868–1955) became interested in the thought of Thomas Aquinas and began studying his Summa Theologica.44 This seminal writing contains the quintessence of Catholic Christian philosophy and theology, passed down through the ages by the fathers of the Church and scholastically refined in the thought of Aquinas, the "Angelic Doctor." At the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, a print of the Summa Theologica occupied a prominent place on the altar in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, serving as an invaluable reference to the clergy attending the Council.45 With the new life given to Thomism by Pope Leo XIII, Claudel, as a Catholic philosopher, would have felt compelled to investigate the Summa.

Claudel's engagement with Thomas Aquinas's Summa marks an important step in his journey back to Catholicism. Only a few years earlier, he had experienced conversion while attending Vespers on Christmas Eve at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, when he was moved by the sound of the Magnificat. In that moment, Claudel became aware of important changes he needed to make to his drama La Jeune Fille Violaine (The Young Girl Violaine). In addition to changing the title to L'Annonce faite à Marie (The Tidings Brought to Mary) and modeling the character Violaine after the Virgin Mary, he revised the drama so that it incorporated specific references to Scripture and aligned events in his story with those portrayed in the Bible, specifically, the Annunciation and the Assumption.

By 1940, when Claudel published his further revisions to L'Annonce, he had substantially transformed his style to a unique verse-type hovering between prosaic poetry and poetic drama. British novelist and poet (John) Rayner Heppenstall observes how Claudel "uses his typographical eccentricities with great subtlety as a form of notation," possibly referring to the dramatist's parsing of words such as laetare, found in the Marian hymn Regina coeli, into the syllables lae-ta-re, which then could be adapted as musical cues for the pitches "la" and "re." At the conclusion of this otherwise spoken drama, Claudel added three choirs. Choir I sings laetare, while Choirs II and III parse it into syllables and chant it, all in mantra-like repetition, as the father of Violaine carries away her lifeless body, and the bell from a nearby cloister signals the evening Angelus on Christmas Day. This final scene connects the chaste Violaine to the Virgin Mary by recreating the legend of Mary's assumption, whereby God the Father carried Mary's stainless body intact into heaven. In 1948, the same year that the revised version of Das Marienleben was published, Claudel completed the final and definitive version of his five-part drama, eliminating Scriptural references to Christ's death from this final scene. (In The Four Temperaments, Hindemith changed passages in the "Melancholic" variation, eliminating the tonal references to Mary.) He not only succeeded in expressing the physical aspects and the human nature of each character, as Hindemith did musically in The Four Temperaments, at a deeper level he connected them through dramatic symbolism to philosophical and theological aspects as Hindemith accomplished through tonal symbolism.

No evidence has been uncovered to indicate that Claudel and Hindemith met or corresponded before 1953, when they collaborated on a project for UNESCO. Yet, long before then, Hindemith knew well Claudel's work and his approach to character development through reading and especially through their mutual intermediary, the French composer Darius Milhaud, who had served as Claudel's former diplomatic aide and long-time collaborator. From 1926 until their respective emigrations in the United States, Hindemith and Milhaud spoke on the telephone, corresponded, and interacted on numerous occasions in Paris and other European cities.46 In fact, the Hindemiths and the Milhauds sat together in Berlin in May 1930 at the premiere of Milhaud's opera-cantata Christoph Kolumbus, set to Claudel's libretto Christophe Colomb, which had been translated to accommodate the German audience.47 This monumental production includes images of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child on film that are projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. Any questions Hindemith might have posed to Milhaud about this or any of Claudel's works, or about his philosophy and theology, would have been answered by a knowledgeable and sympathetic source. Later, Milhaud sent both the piano-vocal score and the libretto of this large-scale, religiously symbolic work to Hindemith.48

Claudel also had a close relationship with Jacques Maritain, a French philosopher, metaphysician, and theologian who was fourteen years his junior. Claudel's diary records meetings and correspondence with Maritain throughout the year 1921, including the following entry from April: "Conversation between Maritain, Massignon, and me. That looks like a religious council!"49 In another entry, Claudel transcribed into his diary the contents of a letter from Maritain, about the conversion to Catholicism of a friend living in the canton of Vaud (Switzerland).

Jacques Maritain and Distinguer pour unir, ou Les degrés du savoir

The number of prominent figures in twentieth-century history who knew and associated with the Parisian-born philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882–1973) appears limitless! A grandson of the French statesman Jules Favre––who figured prominently during the 1871 Commune––Maritain served as a spiritual and philosophical adviser to a long list of colorful figures, such as the Rumanian prince turned priest Vladimir Ghika. Maritain also befriended and advised a number of creative artists, including composer Erik Satie; playwright and critic Jean Cocteau; Futurist painter Gino Severini; critic and founding member of the literary magazine Nouvelle Revue Française, Henri Ghéon; music critic, scholar, and close friend of Debussy Louis Laloy, and his wife; poet Julian Green; Claudel; and, in the early 1940s, Paul and Gertrud Hindemith.

Although Maritain authored several influential texts, one in particular remains a landmark, Distinguer pour unir, ou Les degrés du savoir (Distinguish to Unite, or the Degrees of Knowing). Also known in French under the title Éléments de philosophie, the work is now commonly translated as The Degrees of Knowledge, which omits a significant phrase from the title: Distinguish [in Order] to Unite. In his preface to the original French edition, Maritain stated immediately the critical need for the human mind to know distinction in order to know unity.50

A comparison of Maritain's objectives in Distinguish to Unite with Ferdinand Hand's in Aesthetics of Musical Art reveals similar thinking and a direct application to music. "The Difference . . . in which a tone appears must be definable and susceptible of [a] unity," wrote Hand, and he also argued, "Even in the case of musical sounds we distinguish purity as the unity of similar vibrations, for the reverse of this is noise."51 From this point forward, Hand distinguishes between the properties of nature in general, including sound, in contradistinction to those of humans. While these two works do not rise to the same level of scholarship––clearly Maritain's is the more profound and academically sophisticated of the two––both attempt to discern the properties that distinguish humans from all other creatures, namely, the ability to move beyond a purely sensory reaction and dianoetic experience to a spiritual and ananoetic one. Simply stated, the difference constitutes the process whereby we recognize and know elements in our world versus how we recognize and know God.

Unlike Hand's treatise, which only implies knowledge of Augustinian thought, Maritain's volume includes an entire chapter on the subject. 52 Here Maritain writes, "When I say that the fountainhead of St. Augustine's teaching . . . is nevertheless more exalted than that of St. Thomas [Aquinas] . . . ," he provides the rationale behind Hindemith's assessment of Augustine in A Composer's World. Hindemith acknowledges the importance of Augustine's De Musica, Liber Sex, for its "remarkable postulates concerning eternal musical values," but also because these "postulates . . . have only in the most recent development of music philosophy and music psychology regained importance . . . ."53

Influenced by Charles Péguy and Léon Bloy while attending classes at the Sorbonne, Maritain, along with his wife Raïssa, converted to Catholicism in 1906. At one point, the couple's spiritual advisor, the Dominican friar Father Humbert Clérissac, introduced Raïssa to the Summa Theologica of Aquinas, who in turn excited Maritain about it. The Maritains opened their home in the Paris suburb of Meudon to weekly meetings of the Society of Thomist Studies (Cercle d'Études Thomistes) in the 1920s and 1930s, and they hosted annual events led by one of the great Thomist scholars of the twentieth century, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Frequented not only by Catholic intellectuals in the vicinity of Paris, these "reunions" drew intellectuals of various religious persuasions from around the world, including Father Charles Henrion, a close friend of Claudel. (Henrion ministered to Cocteau during his period of drug addiction and may have been responsible for Cocteau's conversion to Catholicism while he recovered at Maritain's home in Meudon.) Maritain remained in Paris until shortly before the Nazi occupation, when he, his wife, and his sister-in-law moved to the United States.

In 1940, Maritain spoke at the International Institute of Cultural Relations, April 24–27, at Wells College in Aurora, New York; during the same period, Hindemith presented a series of lectures on composition there. Evidence of a connection between Hindemith and Maritain dates from 30 March 1940, about two months after the composer arrived in the United States, and some six months before he began writing The Four Temperaments. His pocket calendar contains the following entry, "event in Aurora and met Maritain."54

Approximately one month later, Hindemith wrote to his wife Gertrud, "Your famous Maritain is in Aurora for a couple of lectures. Last Tuesday I didn't see him because he was preparing, and I had to speak. Next week he is still there."55 Although I have been unable to examine all the correspondence between the Hindemiths from this period, I have verified that both Hindemith and Maritain were on the campus between 19 March and 30 April 1940. Furthermore, there is evidence of correspondence between the Hindemiths and Maritain in November 1942.56 Though Hindemith was not a member of Maritain's circle of Thomists while both men lived in Europe, he and Gertrud owned the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas and eight books authored by Maritain on topics in philosophy, theology, and poetry.57 Maritain's thought appears to have aided Hindemith in the crystallization of his own ideas on music philosophy. As an intelligent and talented man, or as the composer Francis Poulenc described him, "rather nice in a crude way,"58 Hindemith could not profess to be a scholar or a philosopher by academic standards; thus, he needed the guidance of Maritain and his intellectually sophisticated thought in order to understand the process whereby the mind absorbs music and transforms it into moral strength.

Paul Hindemith: The Four Temperaments and the Marienleben Revisions

In September 1922, the almost twenty-seven-year-old Paul Hindemith wrote in a letter to his friend Emmy Ronnefeldt about "the new zest" his recently formed Amar-Hindemith Quartet had been bringing to the music scene in Frankfurt and across Europe, and about "the spirit of enterprise" that had sparked his creative energy.59 Occupied with orchestrating, performing, touring, and composing, that year he produced two song cycles, one set to poems by Georg Trakl, Die junge Magd (The Young Maid) for contralto and six instruments and the other to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Marienleben for soprano with two violas and two cellos. Shortly after the first performance of the Marienleben songs in 1923, he told his publishers at B. Schott's Söhne, "I definitely think [the songs] are the best things I have yet written."60 Yet, in the preface to the revised version, Hindemith indicated that the audience's response after that first performance caused him to realize the impact his music had on people, and in the summer of 1935 he began revising them. Hindemith had expected to complete the Marienleben revisions to coincide with the publication of his Unterweisung im Tonsatz (The Craft of Musical Composition), Book 2 (1939). His explanation of the three symbols he uses to identify the tonic, dominant, and subdominant pitches—in the long statement cited below, Hindemith makes clear that he is speaking about individual tones, not harmonies—in a music cadence also identify the dominant, tonic, and subdominant tonal centers given in his Sketchbook 1941/42 in which he worked on the song cycle. In The Craft of Musical Composition, he compares the domain of intervals to familial relationships, identifying the source tone as the "father," 61 the dominant as the first relative, and the subdominant as the weaker but still strongly supportive second relative.62 With C as the everlasting central tonal model or, as Hindemith referred to it, "tonal pillar," he arranged the remaining pitches after C in the following order: G, F, A, E, Eflat, Aflat, D, Bflat, Dflat, B, Fsharp (Gflat).63 About his purpose for this arrangement, Hindemith could not have been clearer:

I know the objection which every reader and every student will offer to this proof: "We know that already; it is the series of harmonic (simultaneous) intervals with slight changes in the region of thirds and sixths. Completely wrong! We are not at all concerned here with harmonic intervals, intervals the tones of which sound simultaneously. Whoever at this point does not realize that the tangible fragments of simultaneous and successively sounding intervals are related to the abstract relationships of the tones only in so far as our system of notation, which is insufficient for such subtleties, is compelled to portray them in similar patterns, should attempt without fail to familiarize himself with this new conception."64

The symbols Hindemith uses to indicate the tonal center, dominant, and subdominant appear not only in Book 2 of The Craft but also in the Sketchbook 1941/42, in which he also illuminates his new concept. Table 1 below names the tonal centers as Hindemith listed them in The Craft of Musical Composition, Book 2, and pairs each one with the symbolic images and concepts he assigned to them in his Sketchbook 1941/42. 

Table 1



In the revised Marienleben songs, the central tonal pillar is Christ (E), the first principal relative is Mary (B), and the supportive second relative is the Angel (A).65 The Sketchbook 1941/42 also reveals the change Hindemith made to the tonal pillar in song No. 3, "Mariäs Verkündigung" (The Annunciation to Mary [by the Archangel Gabriel]) from "H/E" to "A." With this change, he shifted the musical focus from Mary and Christ, respectively, to the Archangel Gabriel. This desire for exactitude to Scriptural detail parallels Claudel's, especially in his revisions to L'Annonce faite à Marie. Hindemith also changed the tonal pillars in song No. 14, "Vom Tode Mariä II" (Concerning Mary's Death, Part 2). His original key choices had been Eflat and G, indicating "death or purity" and "unspoiled"; however, as C and Eflat, the references to "Heaven" and "purity" reinforce the account in Scripture of Mary's assumption into heaven and Rilke's poetic text. Furthermore, he provided a solid tonal connection between song No. 14 and song No. 13, "Vom Tode Marïa I," revised in July 1936 and built on the tonal pillars C and Eflat. In addition to his and Gertrud's emigrations in the United States in 1940, something else delayed until 1941 the final revisions of the songs: No. 3, "Mariäs Verkündigung," No. 9, "Von der Hochzeit zu Kana" (Concerning the Wedding at Cana), and No. 14, "Vom Tode Mariä II."

In October 1940 Hindemith interrupted his work on his Symphony in E-flat, after completing the first two movements, in order to fulfill a commission from the ballet master and choreographer George Balanchine. Balanchine asked for about fifteen minutes of music, "something for piano with a little strings that I can play at home,"66 but Hindemith composed an almost thirty-minute set of four tripartite variations on a tripartite theme, intended for performance at the Ballet. The resulting (Theme with Four Variations according to) The Four Temperaments remains a signature work in the core repertoire of The New York City Ballet.

Lacking time to write a scenario for the ballet, however, Hindemith selected as his subject the four medieval humours. Each variation in The Four Temperaments is named for one of the bodily humours and associated with a bodily fluid: (1) melancholic, black bile; (2) sanguine, blood; (3) phlegmatic, phlegm or mucus; and (4) choleric, yellow bile. From the time before Christ through the early 1900s, scholars linked medicine and philosophy, in the belief that the body with its principal organs and their mood-affecting fluids was "the envelope of the soul."67 In order to achieve the characteristics associated with each physical type, Hindemith manipulated particular musical elements, specifically meter, tempo, and rhythm. The theme, which exists without any corporeal reference or emotional trait, I call "perfect," pure and divine; whereas the variations, by virtue of their human natures, I call "imperfect" (see Table 2).

Table 2. The human four temperaments according to Hippocrates (460–370 B.C.)


Ties between the Marienleben revisions and The Four Temperaments can also be found in his sketchbook containing the ballet music. Near the end of those sketches, Hindemith constructed a table listing the tonal pillar for each of its fifteen divisions, to which David Neumeyer previously has drawn attention.68 Table 3 identifies the tonal centers of the theme and each of the variations.

Table 3. Structural concept of The Four Temperaments' tripartite theme and four tripartite variations


Furthermore, in all instances where the tonal pillar B, the symbolic sound of Mary, would have predominated, Hindemith altered his sketches for The Four Temperaments by systematically transposing Mary's tonality to one of the five listed in Table 3.

Hindemith's system of pairing tonal centers and religiously symbolic ideas and images has close affinities to a similar practice of Claudel. By the 1920s Claudel began connecting individual letters and words to corporeal and incorporeal concepts and recording them in his journal. One entry dated in March 1923 explicates the English alphabet, whereby the letter "N" represents "the fish swallowing the hook" (le poisson avalant l'hameçon) and the letter "T" represents "the cross" (la croix). Another entry from the period between August and September 1926 includes the following: "the fish" = Christ," "the bile of the fish = Christ suffering, his ability to suffer or his capacity for suffering––organ of the body."69 Yet another from 1929 treats the word "HOMME" (man), whereby the letter O symbolizes, among other things, the soul (l'âme).70 Hindemith used the letter O, or a circular whole note, as a basis for his symbols in The Craft and his chronicle of revisions of the Marienleben songs in the Sketchbook 1941/42, adding stems with flags à la eighth notes emanating from the center of the circle, upward (dominant) or downward (subdominant), or a bisecting line (tonic).71

With Das Marienleben and The Four Temperaments, Hindemith demonstrates his strong nexus with Claudel's philosophical-theological approach to drama––and Milhaud's musical setting of it. Not only does Hindemith organize his own method around a system of tonal equivalences, e.g., C ("father") = "Heaven" or "Eternity," he arranges the tonal centers in a manner that suggests a spiritual text, one composed of images and concepts consistent with a contemplative focus on the divine. Hindemith's explication of this approach in the preface to the revised Marienleben cycle illuminates his own spiritual conversion:

The strong impression which the first performance made on the audience––I had expected nothing of the sort––made me aware for the first time in my musical existence of the ethical qualities of music and the moral obligations of a composer. . . . I began to perceive the ideal of a music, noble and consummate, . . . and I knew that from this time on the Marienleben would lead me along this path and act as a standard from which to approach my ideal. This attitude, partly sentimental and partly aggressive, towards an already completed work led me very soon to make tentative efforts towards improving it. They were followed by more radical changes of a technical and intellectual nature, and at length the new Marienleben emerged, still basically the same, yet technically and spiritually renewed. . . .72

This statement draws attention not only to the influence of the Virgin Mary on a creative artist––recall Claudel's Marian moment in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris––but also to a twenty-five-year pilgrimage that transformed Hindemith's nature from technical and intellectual to technical and spiritual. Within that time, Hindemith's faith intensified and his philosophy moved from the tentative to the radical, as he described the process. His reliance on Augustine as a basis for his own philosophy, given in A Composer's World, surely relied on the thought of Maritain, a renowned Catholic scholar, for clarification. Information contained in Maritain's The Degrees of Knowledge provided Hindemith with the essential, final link between the science of music (method) and the ideal of the beautiful in music, the levels of knowing (philosophy).

The mental faculty used in discursive reasoning, dialectic intellection, concerns itself with substantial natures, that is, the corporeal or material. These natures consist of properties that distinguish them from other natures by their signs or characteristics,73 while generally allowing them to belong to an entire class, e.g., human nature. In The Four Temperaments, the properties of being melancholic are considered proper to it, and not to any of the other three temperaments. Dianoetic intellection allows humans to recognize the properties of the various temperaments, even when they are depicted musically, because their signs or properties remain recognizable.

Not everything, however, is connatural to our power of knowing; some things are intelligible to humans only by analogy. Intellection by analogy, that is, ananoetic intellection, allows human knowing to move via the dianoetic through the metaphysical realm to the trans-intelligible, where pure spirit resides.74 Attaining the divine perfection rests in the deepest desire of human being. In The Four Temperaments, Hindemith hoped to guide the human spirit from the corporeal to the incorporeal by superimposing images and concepts associated with the metaphysical and the divine on the work's principal tonal centers and then connecting them to each of the human temperaments. If successful, his music could reach that part of the soul which Augustine called intellectus et mens, that is, intellect and mind, which is enlightened by a higher light and that light is God.75

In the preface to A Composer's World, Hindemith wrote, "Every fact given is derived from somewhere––even some ideas which I cherished as the unique results of my own speculation."76 Geoffrey Skelton stated in his biography of Hindemith that "the whole basis of Hindemith's belief––and it is the recurring theme throughout [A Composer's World]––is that composition is a divine gift which comes and goes as it pleases . . . ."77 Compare Hindemith's statement and Skelton's assessment of Hindemith with one made by Leo XIII in his encyclical Aeterni Patris: "St. Thomas Aquinas . . . modestly confessed that whatever he knew he had acquired not so much by his own study and labor as by the divine gift."78

The tonal scheme of The Four Temperaments, when paired with the spiritual images associated with the Marienleben revisions, reveals a cryptic statement of religious belief, and the perfect union between corporeal and incorporeal elements, an objective also achieved by Claudel in L'Annonce, and explicated by Maritain (see Table 4).

Table 4. Tonal-symbolic and human temperament associations


In his own words, Hindemith speaks to music educators: "Music has to be converted into moral power. We receive its sounds and forms, but they remain meaningless unless we include them in our own mental activity and use their fermenting quality to turn our soul towards everything noble, superhuman, and ideal."79 "We must be grateful," he continues, "that with our art we have been placed halfway between science and religion, enjoying the advantages of exactitude in thinking . . . and of the unlimited world of faith."80


Aquinas, Thomas. Philosophy & Theory. Selected and edited by M. C. D'Arcy, S. J. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1939.

Arikha, Noga. Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours. New York: Ecco/Harper, 2007.

Christoph Kolumbus: Oper in zwei Teilen und 27 Bildern. Piano-vocal score in 2 vols. Universal Edition no. 9708. Original French text as Christophe Colomb by Paul Claudel; German text adapted from the French by Rudolf Stephan Hoffmann; music by Darius Milhaud. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1930.

________. Libretto. Universal Edition no. 9384. Original French text as Christophe Colomb by Paul Claudel; German text adapted from the French by Rudolf Stephan Hoffmann; music by Darius Milhaud. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1930.

Claudel, Paul. Journal I (1904–1932). With an introduction by François Varillon. Selected, edited, and annotated by François Varillon and Jacques Petit. Paris: Gallimard, 1968.

________. Two Dramas [: Break of Noon (Partage de midi) and The Tidings Brought to Mary (L'Annonce faite à Marie)]. Translations and introductions by Wallace Fowlie. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1960. Contains the principally edited versions of L'Annonce faite à Marie published by Nouvelle Revue Française/Gallimard in 1912, 1940, and 1948.

Dahlhaus, Carl. Between Romanticism and Modernism: Four Studies in the Music of the Later Nineteenth Century. Translated by Mary Whittall. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1980. First published as Zwischen Romantik und Moderne. Munich: Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, 1974.

________. Esthetics of Music. Translated by William W. Austin. London: Cambridge University Press, 1983. First published as Musikästhetik. Cologne: Musikverlag Hans Gerig, 1967.

________. The Idea of Absolute Music. Translated by Roger Lustig. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1989. First published as Die Idee der absoluten Musik. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1978.

________. Nineteenth-Century Music. Translated by J. Bradford Robinson. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989. First published as Die Musik des 19. Jahrhunderts in Neue Handbuch der Wissenschaft, Volume 6. Wiesbaden: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1980.

D'Arcy, M[artin] C[yril], S. J. "The Philosophy of St. Augustine." In A Monument to St. Augustine: Essays on Some Aspects of His Thought Written in Commemoration of His 15th Centenary. London: Sheed and Ward, 1930; New York: Lincoln MacVeagh: Dial Press, 1930.

"Die Hindemith Bibliothek in Blonay." Unpublished catalogue of the contents of the Paul and Gertrud Hindemith libraries in their home in Blonay, Switzerland. Hindemith-Institut document.

Duffy, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes. 2nd paperback ed. Yale Nota Bene Book. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Furey, Francis T. Life of Leo XIII and History of His Pontificate. Taken from official and approved sources with an introduction by V. Rev. Thomas C. Middleton. New York and Philadelphia: Catholic Educational Company, 1903.

Godbout, Muriel K. Director of Library and Information Services, Long Library, Wells College, Aurora, NY, e-mail dated 15 February 2010 to the author in Mason, OH. The contents detail events and activities of Paul Hindemith and Jacques Maritain at Wells College in March and April 1940.

"A Good Man." Editorial dated 6 July 1903 in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle following the death of Pope Leo XIII. Brooklyn Eagle Library No. 80, 18/10 (July 1903). Online: January 2011.

Hand, Ferdinand. Aesthetics of Musical Art; or The Beautiful in Music, Book 1, 2nd ed. Translated by Walter E. Lawson. London: William Reeves, 1880. Cornell University Library Digital Collections. Reprinted upon author's request March 2010.

Hanslick, Eduard. On the Musically Beautiful. Translated and edited by Geoffrey Payzant from the 8th ed. (1891) of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen: ein Beitrag zur Revision der Ästhetik der Tonkunst. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1986.

Heppenstall, Rayner. The Double Image: Mutations of Christian Mythology in the Work of Four French Catholic Writers of Today and Yesterday. London: Secker & Warburg, 1947.

Hindemith, Paul. A Composer's World: Horizons and Limitations. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1969.

________. The Craft of Musical Composition, Book 2: Exercises in Two-Part Writing. Translated by Otto Ortmann. Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne, 1941. First published as Unterweisung im Tonsatz, Teil 2: Bicinium. Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne, 1939.

________. Das Marienleben (The Life of Mary). Introductory remarks for the new version of the song cycle and English translation of the poems from the German by Arthur Mendel. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1954. Original version in German published Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne, 1923.

________. "Das Marienleben." Hindemith Forum 20 (2009): 3–13. This issue includes a color reprint of page 22 of Hindemith's Sketchbook 1941/42, a log of his revision work on his Marian song cycle: 12.

________. Das private Logbuch: Briefe an seine Frau Gertrud. Edited by Friederike Becker and Giselher Schubert. Mainz: Schott; Munich: Piper, 1995.

________. Sketchbook containing Theme with Four Variations according to the Four Temperaments. On permanent loan by the Hindemith-Institut to the Paul Hindemith Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Author's microfilm copy of the relevant pages.

________. Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith. Edited and translated from the German by Geoffrey Skelton. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Hindemith, Paul, to Ernest R. Voigt, Associated Music Publishers, 4 November 1940. Transcript of a letter in German in the hand of Paul Hindemith. Hindemith-Institut document.

Johnson, Sandra L. "The Relationship between Hindemith and Milhaud before Mathis der Maler." Hindemith-Jahrbuch 33 (2004): 234–64.

________. Paul Hindemith's Theme with Four Variations: The Four Temperaments, Its History, Reception, and Importance. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 2003.

Leo XIII. Aeterni Patris. Papal encyclical on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy given at St. Peter's, Rome, Italy, on 4 August 1879. (accessed November 2009).

Maritain, Jacques. Distinguish to Unite or The Degrees of Knowledge. Selected Works of Jacques Maritain, Volume 7. Translated from the 4th French edition by Gerald B. Phelan with an introduction by Ralph McInerny. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995.

Mitchell, M. Lalor. "Ludwig Pastor, the Great German Historian." Catholic World 67/397 (April 1898). Online: . . . . (accessed January 2011).

Neumeyer, David. "Tonal, Formal, and Proportional Design in Hindemith's Music." Music Theory Spectrum 9 (1987): 93–116.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Human, All-Too-Human, parts 1 and 2. Translated from the German by Helen Zimmern and Paul V. Cohen. With an introduction by J. M. Kennedy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009.

O'Hare, P. F. "Pope Leo's Jubilee." Brooklyn Eagle, 10 March 1902: 13. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841–1902. Online: (accessed January 2011).

O'Reilly, Bernard. Life of Leo XIII. From an authentic memoir furnished by his order. Chicago: John C. Winston, 1903.

Pius X. Lamentabili Sane. Syllabus condemning the errors of the modernists given at St. Peter's, Rome, Italy, 3 July 1907. June 2008.

________. Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Encyclical on the doctrine of the modernists given at St. Peter's, Rome, Italy, 8 September 1907. June 2008.

________. Praestantia Scripturae. Motu proprio on the censures and penalties against the errors of the modernists given at St. Peter's, Rome, Italy, 18 November 1907. June 2008.

________. The Oath Against Modernism. September 1, 1910. June 2008.

Poulenc, Francis. Correspondance 1910–1963. Compiled, selected, presented, and annotated by Myriam Chimènes. [Paris]: Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1994.

Quardt, Robert. The Master Diplomat, from the Life of Leo XIII. Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1964.

Reynolds, Nancy, "Listening to Balanchine." In Dance for a City: Fifty Years of The New York City Ballet, edited by Lynn Garafola. With Eric Foner. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Schader, Luitgard. Assistant Editor of the Hindemith Collected Works Edition at the Hindemith-Institut, Frankfurt, Germany, e-mail dated 8 December 2009 to the author in Mason, OH. The contents provide evidence of a meeting between Paul Hindemith and Jacques Maritain at Wells College in 1940 based on an entry in Hindemith's pocket calendar (Taschenkalendar), a telegram and a printed formal invitation from Maritain to the Hindemiths.

Skelton, Geoffrey. Paul Hindemith: The Man behind the Music. London: Victor Gollancz, 1975.

Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz and Oliver Fürbeth. Music in German Philosophy: An Introduction. Translated by Susan H. Gillespie. With a preface by H. James Birx. With an introduction to the English-Language edition by Michael Spitzer. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.


1Hindemith, A Composer's World, 13.
2Ibid., ix.
3Ibid., 14.
4Johnson, Paul Hindemith's Theme with Four Variations, 278–81.
5Paul Hindemith to Ernest R. Voigt, Associated Music Publishers, Inc., New York, 4 November 1940, transcript of a letter in German in the hand of Paul Hindemith (Hindemith-Institut document).
6By 1800 Immanuel Kant had initiated a philosophical "transformation of religion into morality and metaphysics"; Johann Herder had proposed that "music could develop only on the ground of Judeo-Christian religion"; and Friedrich Schleiermacher had written On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultural Despisers (Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern, 1799), declaring religion "to be a feeling that is best expressed precisely in music." A Christian theologian and pastor, Schleiermacher had also written and revised The Christian Faith (Der Christliche Glaube, 1821/22 and 1830/31), an important theological treatise (Music in German Philosophy, 56–57). In 1950 Hindemith completed his commitment to Harvard University as the Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer for 1949–1950, and began revising these lectures for publication as his mature philosophy of music in A Composer's World: Horizons and Limitations.
7Hand, Aesthetics of Musical Art, 121.
8D'Arcy, S. J. "The Philosophy of St. Augustine," 192.
9Nietzsche, Human, All-Too-Human, 113. Nietzsche wrote this book in 1878, two years after he had penned his essay on Richard Wagner, and the same year in which Leo XIII was elected Pope. Nietzsche, in his autobiography Ecce Homo, stated the purpose of Human, All-Too-Human (Menschlisches, allzumenschlisches) to be a book for free spirits, meaning a "freed [Nietzsche's italics] man, who has once more taken possession of himself" (75, and quoted in the introduction to Human, All-Too-Human, 9). In Human, All-Too-Human, he concluded: " . . .the cult of genius fosters our vanity, our self-love, for it is only when we think of it as very far removed from us, as a miraculum, that it does not wound us . . ." (114).
10Dahlhaus, Between Romanticism and Modernism, 2.
11Dahlhaus, Esthetics of Music, vii.
12Dahlhaus, The Idea of Absolute Music, 15.
13Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, 171. Apart from in his book Nineteenth-Century Music, the word Biedermeier appears infrequently in Dahlhaus's writing. Used to refer to the Restoration Period (1814–1848), the existence of a Biedermeier aesthetic seems to be in question. The term Biedermeier, which appears in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, has been excluded from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, widely published music history texts, and other historical volumes treating aesthetics in the first half of the nineteenth century.
14The philosophical thought of René Descartes (1596–1650) in the seventeenth century remains a starting point for discussion of modern philosophy and the move away from the Augustinian-Thomist model. For the sake of brevity, I intentionally omitted Friedrich Schleiermacher, a Christian theologian and philosopher, from the list of nineteenth-century German philosophers and this paper. See Gunter Scholz's chapter on him in Sorgner and Fürbeth, eds., Music in German Philosophy: An Introduction.
15Unsigned article dated 8 May 1881: 2.
16Mitchell, Ludwig Pastor, the Great German Historian, 60. Mitchell wrote, "The 'Kulturkampf' was at its height and made the Catholic university career anything but encouraging . . . [Pastor, a Catholic and non-cleric] chose the University of Innsbrück . . . there [he] commenced his lectures in 1881, and his success as a professor soon broke down all the prejudice which a Catholic had to face, even in Catholic Austria, at that time . . . ." This example reflects anti-Catholic sentiment and similar occurrences in Italy, France, Switzerland, Russia––anywhere the Holy See and secular governments were at odds. (See Eamon Duffy, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes for additional examples.)
17Hindemith, A Composer's World, 4, 6.
18Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, 103–115.
19Payzant, translator's notes in Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, xv.
20Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, 46.
21Ibid., 29.
22Ibid., 7.
23Ibid., 11.
24Thomas Aquinas, Philosophy & Theory, 177.
25Ibid., 179.
26Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, iii. According to Hanslick's remarks in the new foreword, the eighth edition differs from the first and the seventh only with a few minor corrections to the seventh edition and convenient and cosmetic adjustments to the book's format and appearance, respectively, over the first.
27Hanslick describes this rambling prose as "somewhat caustic and rhapsodic" (On the Musically Beautiful, xxii).
28Ibid., 11, 46. Hanslick based his remarks on psychology on a book published by German philosopher Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz (1805–1879), Psychology, or the Knowledge of Subjective Spirit (Psychologie oder Wissenschaft vom subjektiven Geist, 1837; 3rd ed. 1863).
29Ibid., 82.
30Dalhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, 250.
31O'Reilly, Life of Leo XIII, 320.
32In the Brooklyn Eagle, P. F. O'Hare wrote on the occasion of Leo XIII's Papal Silver Jubilee, "Kings and emperors seek his favor, prime ministers are anxious for a suggestion from his wisdom, the learned of the world see in him their representative and art and science find in him a patron and a protector (10 March 1902: 13). Robert Quardt published a "chat with readers" entitled The Master Diplomat, from the Life of Leo XIII (Der Meisterdiplomat), in which he portrays the title's subject as a skillful negotiator who succeeded in "[elevating] anew and on a global scale the prestige of the Apostolic See" (60). Multiple sources cite Leo XIII's handling of the resolution of the Kulturkampf in Germany as being so successful that Otto von Bismarck agreed to Spain's request to have the Pope negotiate the German-Spanish Treaty involving the Caroline Islands in 1899.
33James Cardinal Gibbons, introduction to Bernard O'Reilly, Life of Leo XIII, [n.n.]. According to its subtitle, this volume received the "encouragement, approbation, and blessing of His Holiness the Pope."
34Jacques Maritain Center (University of Notre Dame) online:, 2010.
35Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, Article 4.
36Paul wrote or dictated to an assistant, Titus, letters of varying length to the people of Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica, as well as to individuals or groups.
37Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, Article 13.
38Ibid., Article 17.
39Between 1848 and 1871, three archbishops of Paris had been killed.
40Leo X111, Aeterni Patris, Article 23.
41Pius X issued Lamentabili Sane, his Syllabus [decree] Condemning the Errors of the Modernists, on 3 July 1907. It contains sixty-five statements, each clarifying the Catholic Church's position on dogma that had been corrupted through erroneous teaching and personal opposition. Pascendi Dominici Gregis: On the Doctrine of the Modernists, an extended work containing fifty-seven articles on matters of philosophy, faith, theology, and history, to name only four, followed on 8 September 1907. Praestantia Scripturae, dating from 18 November 1907, begins with a quote from an encyclical written in 1893 by Leo XIII on the dignity of Sacred Scripture, and outlines the censures and penalties that will be levied against those who fail to observe the prescriptions given in Lamentabili Sane and Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Persisting difficult relations between the Italian government and the Holy See prompted Pius X to issue Doctoris Angelici.
42Pius X, The Oath against Modernism.
43Messiaen the Theologian, ed. Andrew Shenton.
44Heppenstall, The Double Image, 83. While serving as a diplomat in Shanghai in 1894, Claudel studied the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Quotes from the Summa appear in his Journal, which he began in 1904.
45A painting that dates from the late seventeenth century depicts the Council of Trent in Santa Maria Maggiore church with a print of the Summa Theologica upon the altar (Trento, Italy: Museo Diocesano Tridentino). The painting, however, does not show a volume of Scripture or documents previously issued by various Church fathers that Francis T. Furey states were present on the altar (see Furey, Life of Leo XIII, 108).
46Johnson, "The Relationship between Hindemith and Milhaud before Mathis der Maler," 242–64.
47The correspondence between Milhaud and Claudel reveals the extent of Milhaud's role in refining Claudel's thought for L'Annonce faite à Marie and Christophe Colomb. In the days and months before the May 1930 premiere of Christoph Kolumbus, Milhaud and Hindemith spent a considerable amount of time together in Berlin, where Paul had recently moved.
48"Die Hindemith Bibliothek in Blonay," 166.
49Claudel, Journal I (1904–1932), 505. My translation: The original reads "Conversation entre Maritain, Massignon et mi. Cela ressemblait à un concile!" Louis Massignon, another French Catholic, was a scholar of Islam and its history. The work of all three men influenced policy formulated at the Second Vatican Council, which Pope John XXIII convened in 1962 and his successor Paul VI closed in 1965. The task of presenting their assembled thoughts fell to Maritain, the only living member of the group.
50Maritain, Distinguish to Unite, or The Degrees of Knowledge, ix.
51Hand, Aesthetics of Musical Art, 32.
52Maritain uses the word "wisdom."
53Hindemith, A Composer's World, 3–4.
54E-mail from Luitgard Schader, Hindemith-Institut in Frankfurt, Germany, dated 8 December 2009 to the author in Mason, Ohio. The original text reads "Veranstaltung in Aurora und traf Maritain" (Hindemith-Institut document). By the time he met Maritain, Hindemith already had begun investigating Augustinian thought late in the 1920s. In 1935, following a meeting with Hans Kayser in Olten, Switzerland, he received materials from Kayser written by Albert Freiherr von Thimus. Hindemith owned a first edition of Thimus's book Die harmonikale Symbolik des Alterthums (The Harmonic Symbolism of Antiquity), which contains discussion of Augustine and the intellectualism of religion. Thimus examined the relationship of Pythagorean and Platonic doctrine concerning the mystery of the words God uttered at the time He created the world (see Genesis 1).
55Hindemith, Das private Logbuch, 458. My translation: The original reads "Dein berühmter Maritain ist zur Zeit für ein paar lectures [sic] in Aurora. Letzten Dienstag sah ich ihn nicht, da er sich vorbereiten und ich reden mußte. Nächste Woche ist er noch da. . . ."
56Hindemith-Institut documents. The author has received photocopies of these documents. These consist of a Western Union telegram dated November 1940 and sent from New York by Maritain to Paul and Gertrud Hindemith in New Haven, CT; and a printed formal invitation to participate in "a sixtieth anniversary observance for Jacques Maritain," at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on 9 January 1943.
57"Die Hindemith Bibliothek in Blonay," 157. In addition to The Degrees of Knowledge, the couple owned A Travers le Désastre (1941), Approches de Dieu (1953), Art et Scholastique (1920), De Bergson à Thomas d'Aquin (1944), Quatre Essais sur l'Esprit dans sa Condition Charnelle (1939), Sept Leçons sur l'Être et les Premiers Principes de la Raison Speculative (1934), and Trois Réformateurs: Luther–Descartes–Rousseau (1925).
58Francis Poulenc, Correspondance 1910–1963, 90. This excerpt comes from my translation of a letter dated 16 August 1922 from Poulenc to the composer Darius Milhaud (see Johnson, Paul Hindemith's Theme with Four Variations, 18–9).
59Hindemith, Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith, 29.
60Skelton, Paul Hindemith: The Man behind the Music, 77.
61Hindemith, The Craft of Musical Composition, Book 2, 90.
62Ibid., 93.
63Ibid., 91. Hindemith's philosophy is replete with references to the "everlasting" and "eternal."
64Ibid., 91–2.
65Hindemith, Sketchbook 1941/42, 22, as reprinted in color in Hindemith Forum 20 (2009): 12. In setting Claudel's libretto for Christophe Colomb, which is replete with symbols of Roman Catholicism and texts from the Ordinary and a Proper of the Mass, Milhaud had used the tonality A for the final cadence at a dramatically important conclusion where angels sing.
66Reynolds, "Listening to Balanchine," 161.
67Arikha, Passions and Tempers, 79.
68Neumeyer, "Tonal, Formal, and Proportional Design in Hindemith's Music," 98.
69Claudel, Journal I: 1904–1932, 737. My translation. Claudel's original text reads: "Le poisson = le Christ Le fiel du poisson = le Christ souffrant, sa capacité de souffrir––organe."
70Ibid., 848. My translation. The position of the letter "O" within the word homme might also allude to the location of the soul within the human body.
71Hindemith, The Craft of Musical Composition, Book 2, 97; Sketchbook 1941/42, 22.
72Hindemith, Das Marienleben (The Life of Mary), introductory remarks for the new version of the song cycle and English translation of the poems from the German by Arthur Mendel (New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1954), 3. Original text in Paul Hindemith: Das Marienleben: Gedichte nach Rainer Maria Rilke für Sopran und Klavier, Edition Schott 2026 (Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne, 1948), III. Cited previously in Geoffrey Skelton, Paul Hindemith: The Man behind the Music (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975), 235; in Siglind Bruhn, The Temptation of Paul Hindemith: Mathis der Maler as a Spiritual Testimony (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1998), 61; and in Johnson, Paul Hindemith's Theme with Four Variations, 82.
73Maritain, Distinguish to Unite or The Degrees of Knowledge, 219.
74Ibid., 232.
75D'Arcy, S. J., "The Philosophy of St. Augustine," 171.
76Hindemith, A Composer's World, ix.
77Skelton, Paul Hindemith: The Man behind the Music, 250.
78Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, Article 33.
79Hindemith, A Composer's World, 6.
80Ibid., ix.

15468 Last modified on March 6, 2019