Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kowalke, Kim H. "For Those We Love: Hindemith, Whitman, and 'An American Requiem.'" Journal of the American Musicological Society 50 (Spring 1997): 133-74.

Hindemith, upon becoming a citizen of the United States, began working on what is considered his only nationalistic, American piece: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd: A Requiem "For Those We Love." Like many other American composers living during World War II, Hindemith was drawn to the poetry of Walt Whitman as the essence of American nationalism. Within this composition, however, there are allusions to the Germanic tradition that Hindemith had left. There are many similarities between Hindemith's Whitman Requiem and Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem, such as elaborate choral fugues, funeral marches, an orchestral prelude that uses an extended pedal point in the bass, almost identical orchestration, tempo indications, and motivic material. Other than the allusion to Brahms, Hindemith uses only two other musical borrowings within the Requiem. The first is an offstage trumpet playing "Taps" during a militaristic march. The last borrowing is found in the eighth movement, entitled "For Those We Love." Previous scholarship has only found parallels in the Whitman text with the text of the popular Episcopal hymn "For Those We Love." However, by looking deeper into the history of this hymn text, one finds it used in another hymnal but set to "Yigdal," a traditional Jewish melody sung either before or after the service proper on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which is note-for-note the same as the tune used by Hindemith in the eighth movement of the Requiem. Hindemith takes the quotation one step further by using many of the same rhythmic values, the same key, and the same shift to the major mode for the final cadence as the traditional Jewish melody.

Works: Hindemith: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd: A Requiem "For Those We Love" (133-74); Gaza, traditional Jewish melody from The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1940 (148-56).

Sources: Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem (142-45); Yigdal (155-61).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Altizer

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