Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber
Paul Hindemith (trans. Keith Wilson)
Note: The Marsch (4th movement) is available for sale separately. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd movements (Allegro, Turandot (Scherzo) and Andantino) are available for rent from Schott/European American Music.
1. Allegro - 4:00
2. Turandot (Scherzo) - 7:25
3. Andantino - 4:20
4. Marsch - 4:35
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
F Horn I-II-III-IV
Percussion, 3 players, including:
- Bass Drum
- Cymbal (suspended)
- Parade Drum
- Snare Drum
- English Horn. 2 meas. before reh. A, beat 2: G natural should read G flat [score also]
Symphonic Metamorphosis was premiered by the New York Philharmonic on 20 January 1944, Artur Rodzinski conducting. It has since become one of Hindemith's more popular and enduring works. It was inspired in part by choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine, who suggested to Hindemith that he compose a ballet based on Weber’s music. However, after watching one of Massine’s ballets and discovering that Massine intended to use sets and costumes designed by Salvador Dali (an artist whom Hindemith disliked), Hindemith decided to part ways with Massine, and the project was dropped. A few years later, Hindemith decided to salvage the music and write a set of variations or metamorphoses instead.
The suite is in four movements:
I. Allegro – A confident and aggressive march with East European flavour. This movement is based on Weber’s Huit Pièces pour le pianoforte à quatre mains (Op.60), No. 4, composed in 1818.
II. Turandot, Scherzo – A whimsical and delicate movement with a distinct oriental flavor. The theme is based on the overture to Weber's Turandot (which is itself based on an original Chinese song). The middle section features the brass, woodwind, and percussion sections in turn.
III. Andantino – This slow movement is based on Weber's Six Pièces pour le pianoforte à quatre mains (Op.10), No 2, composed in 1809. The movement closes with an elaborate bit of counterpoint for the flute, which has been said to resemble bird song.
IV. Marsch – Possibly the best known movement, it opens with a set of fanfares. Like the first movement, this one is also based on Huit Pièces pour le pianoforte à quatre mains, this time focusing on No. 7. The original theme was meant to be a funeral march; Hindemith doubles the tempo to give the previously morbid tune a jaunty, catchy feel.
The transcription was completed at Hindemith's request by his Yale University colleague, Keith Wilson.
- Program Note by Nikk Pilato
Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber began life in early 1940, when Hindemith first took up residence in the United States after several years of public and private jousting with the Nazi government of his native Germany. The Nazis officially decried his music as “degenerate,” though they may also have been responding to his private, but hardly secret, expressions of revulsion regarding their policies.
Hindemith sketched a series of movements based on themes by Weber, to be used in a ballet for a dance company run by Léonide Massine, who had already collaborated with Hindemith on the ballet Nobilissima visione. The project died when Hindemith and Massine suffered one too many artistic differences, provoking Hindemith to reconstruct the music into the Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber. The process produced a splashy, colorful orchestral piece of the kind that American audiences in particular seemed to like. The new piece was an immediate success when it was premiered by Artur Rodzinski and the New York Philharmonic in January 1944. Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber has remained perhaps Hindemith’s most popular work.
The themes Hindemith used are from some of Weber’s most obscure works, and came to Hindemith’s attention because they could all be found in one volume of piano duets that he owned. Hindemith not only retained all but one of the themes almost exactly as Weber wrote them but also preserved much of the formal structure of the pieces as well, so that it is possible to follow the general outlines of Hindemith’s score while listening to Weber’s music, or vice versa, and have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. Hindemith alters nearly everything else, making radical changes to the harmony and adding to the music both vertically (with different harmonies and new countermelodies) and horizontally (extending phrases or entire sections).
- Program Note by Richard Floyd for the 2015 Texas All-State Concert Band concert program, 14 February 2015
- MP3 Album Download: Philadelphia Orchestra (Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor)
- MP3 Album Download: North Texas Wind Symphony (Eugene Corporon, conductor)
- Minnesota: Category I: March
- New York:
- Grade VI: Mvt. IV March
- North Carolina: Masterworks - play all
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- McLennan Community College (Waco, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jon Conrad, conductor) – 8 October 2020
- Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) - 14 February 2020
- Lafayette High School (Lexington, Ky.) Wind Symphony (Charles Smith, conductor) – 1 February 2020
- University of Texas (Austin) Symphony Band (Ryan Kelly, conductor) – 9 December 2019
- University of California (Berkeley) Wind Ensemble (Matthew Sadowski, conductor) - 6 December 2019
- West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Stephen D. Davis, conductor) – 3 November 2019
- University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 29 May 2019
- Kent State (Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Jesse Leyva, conductor) – 3 May 2019
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Wind Ensemble (Scott Teeple, conductor) – 27 April 2019
- James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) – 25 April 2019
- University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald J. McKinney, conductor) – 18 April 2019
- University of Oklahoma (Norman) Wind Symphony (Shanti Simon, conductor) – 15 April 2019
- University of Southern Mississippi (Hattisburg) Wind Ensemble (Catherine Rand, conductor) – 20 February 2019 (CBDNA 2019 National Conference, Tempe, Ariz.)
- University of Toronto (Ont.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) – 2 February 2019
- University of Southern Mississippi (Hattisburg) Wind Ensemble (Catherine Rand, conductor) – 16 November 2018
- Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) – 27 September 2018
- Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor) – 25 September 2018
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Concert Music, op. 50 (tr. Duker) (1930/1978)
- Der Schwanendreher (1935)
- Geschwindmarsch by Beethoven (1946)
- Geschwindmarsch (arr. Mas Quiles) (1946/1975)
- Kleine Kammermusik (1922/1949)
- Konzertmusik fur Blasorchester, Opus 41 (1926)
- Konzertmusik für Klavier, Blechbläser und Harfen, Opus 49
- Mathis der Maler (tr. Duker) (1934/1973)
- Morgenmusik (1932)
- Ragtime (tr. De Cinque) (1921/2016)
- Sonata for Four Horns (1952)
- Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber (tr. Wilson) (1943/1972)
- Symphony in B-flat (1951)
- Anderson, Gene. (1994) “Analysis: Musical metamorphoses in Hindemith’s ‘March’ from Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.” Journal of Band Research 30, no. 1 (Fall 1994): 1-10.
- Miles, Richard, comp. & ed. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 2. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 630-638.
- Paul Hindemith website.
- Powell, Edwin C. (2002) “An interview with Keith Wilson on Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis.” Journal of Band Research 38, no. 1 (Fall 2002): 37–48.