Friday, July 19, 2013

1948: Gertrud And Paul Hindemith

Gertrud and Paul Hindemith at their home in New Haven in May 1948.

The Hindemiths had purchased a house in New Haven in 1945, five years after arriving in the U.S. and five years after settling into New Haven, where Hindemith had joined the faculty at Yale.

The Hindemiths acquired U.S. citizenships in 1946.

The Hindemiths were to retain their American citizenships until the ends of their lives.


In Spring 1946, Hindemith wrote a letter to friends back in Germany, describing what he had encountered in America:

Although the country was not unknown to us, the adjustment to completely different surroundings, new working and living conditions, was a not inconsiderable problem. At any rate, the hospitality of the country and the overriding principle of mutual politeness reigning here made adaptation easy. The absence of any enviousness, nosiness and block-warden mentality was particularly welcome after the bad experiences in the old home country.

Personally, we never had the slightest difficulties. We were neither placed in concentration camps nor ever made to feel that we were, after all, enemy aliens. During the difficult wartime period, too, the generally friendly and considerate character of all segments of the population we contacted was shown in the best light. The only restriction in freedom was in the limitation of freedom of movement: if one wanted to travel, one needed a permit from the state capital. It was granted without exception, however.


One of Hindemith’s composition students at Yale was George Roy Hill, who envisioned a career as a composer until he settled on a much different career path: filmmaking.

Hill was born and reared in Minneapolis. Hill’s family at one time owned a morning newspaper, the Minneapolis Tribune, which in 1982 merged with an evening newspaper, the Minneapolis Star, to become the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Had he lived to see it, Hindemith, who possessed a wonderful sense of humor, no doubt would have been amused by the fact that one of his students went on to direct the ribald “Slap Shot”, surely the funniest sports film ever made—and probably the finest.