Der Schwanendreher

From Wind Repertory Project
Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith

This work may be found under its title in English, The Swan Turner.

General Info

Year: 1935
Duration: c. 25:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Schott
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - €16.50


1. Between Mountain and Deep Valley
2. Now Grow Leaves, Little Linden Tree, Grow Leaves
3. The Cuckoo Sat on the Fence
4. Variations: "Aren't You the Swan Turner?


Full Score
Solo Viola
Flute I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Trumpet
Horn in F I-II-III
String Bass I-II-III


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Paul Hindemith's Der Schwanendreher (The Swan Turner) is a concerto for viola and orchestra. Der Schwanendreher occupies a place at the core of the viola concerto repertoire, along with the concertos by Walton and Bartók. It was composed in 1935 and premiered by the composer himself at a performance in Amsterdam on 14 November 1935. Each movement is based on a separate medieval German folk song; thus, it is sometimes referred to as the "Concerto from Old Folk Songs". This composition draws its title from the final movement's folk song base, "Aren't you the swan turner?".

This orchestration is uniquely interesting due to its lack of violins and violas, which benefits the composition by making it easier for the solo viola to be heard.

The movements are Between Mountain and Deep Valley; Now Grow Leaves, Little Linden Tree, Grow Leaves; The Cuckoo Sat on the Fence; and Variations: "Aren't You the Swan Turner?"

The original context of 'swan turner' in medieval times is that of a cook's assistant who would turn the handle of a spit on which swans were roasting. However, in the context of the concerto itself (and evidenced in the text of the folk song), the meaning programmatically seems to refer to a wandering medieval minstrel, or organ grinder, who plays on an instrument such as the hurdy-gurdy (and providing embellishments and rhapsodies on the folk tunes), which has a handle shaped as a swan's neck, thus the 'swan turner' being the travelling musician himself, described by the composer in the preface notes to the work.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Der Schwanendreher, Wikipedia Accessed 26 April 2018
  • Hindemith, P. (1985). Der Schwanendreher : Concerto After Old Folksongs for Viola and Small Orchestra = Konzert nach alten Volksliedern für Viola und kleines Orchester[score]. Eulenburg: London.
  • Perusal score