Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: En hiver by Paul Hindemith


If Rilke had written En hiver in haiku:

Frans_Francken_II_Der_geigende_Tod (1)

Der geigende Tod by Frans Francken the Younger (c 1625).

La mort meurtrière,
Elle joue du violon et
Elle court dans les rues.
Et la mort salue,
“Bonjour, bonsoir, mes amis!”
Mais personne ne parle.

 That murderous Death,
He plays the violin and
He runs through the streets.
And Death greets us all,
“Good day, and good night, my friends!”
But no one answers.

Der mörderisch Tod,
Er spielt die Violine,
Läuft durch die Strassen.
Der Tod grüsst jeden,
“Guten Tag, meine Freunde!”
Niemand antwortet.

The music for En hiver was written by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) in 1939, the fifth of six pieces in the work Six Chansons.  The six songs are settings of poems in French by Rainer Maria Rilke (Rilke wrote in French and German).  The text is found in Vergers, written in 1924/1925.

Hindemith, like Schoenberg, began writing in the style of the late Romantic period.  But unlike Schoenberg, who steered toward atonality and developed the 12-tone method, Hindemith was influenced by the contrapuntal style of Bach.  However, like Schoenberg, he used all 12 notes in the octave, but allowed there to be “centers of gravity” of tonality more common in traditional music.

Here is a video of En hiver and Verger performed by the University of California Chamber Chorus.

And if you’ll kindly indulge me, here’s an off-topic bonus haiku:

Today New Jersey
And all born there celebrate
Bruce Springsteen’s birthday.


Image attribution:  Frans Francken the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

4 thoughts on “Haiku Wednesday: En hiver by Paul Hindemith

  1. Whoa, three languages, all working properly in haiku. This is an accomplishment!

    As for Springsteen, another poet, I’m proof one needn’t be a NJ native to celebrate . . .


  2. Nice! I’ll pass this along to the Singers. Yes- the viol-playing Death-figure is a stock character from the middle ages on (interesting sidelight on Chagall, yes?). And Bergman. Where did you find this info?




    • I suppose I should footnote more. The sources that I link to in the post are where the key information originates. However, this is typically accompanied by a random walk through the internet, sometimes yielding results, sometimes not, and exactly how I find some of the stuff I find is even beyond me!


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