Tag Archives: Benny Goodman

A Connection Between Wittgenstein and Goodman: Paul Hindemith

At first glance, pianist Paul Wittgenstein and clarinetist Benny Goodman don’t have much in common. The one came from one of the wealthiest families in Austria and pursued a career as a classical pianist, although his family initially did not approve. The other grew up in poor circumstances as the son of Jewish immigrants in Chicago and achieved enormous success as a swing musician in the U.S. and around the world. And yet, in my research, I foreground their commonalities: both commissioned famous composers of their time to write new concertos for them, in one case even the same person: Paul Hindemith (1895-1963).

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Performers as Commissioners – New Research Project

The last quarter of 2021 held something special for me: the start of my new research project “Performers as Commissioners of New Music in the Twentieth Century: Preconditions, Self-Conceptions, Impacts.” It is funded by an Elise Richter Grant (with a volume of € 379,095.37) from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and runs from October 2021 to September 2025 at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna. As a follow up to my work on Benny Goodman, this study includes further artists, who essentially shaped their instruments’ repertoires and aesthetics by hiring composers to write for them (see below), and takes the questions investigated within the Goodman-pilot onto a broader level.

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Interview with Composer Allen Shawn

Allen Shawn © 2018 by Cynthia Locklin

Recently, I had the great pleasure of talking to Allen Shawn. I had reached out to him in the context of my research on Benny Goodman, as he had received a composition commission from Goodman in 1983, resulting in a double concerto for clarinet, cello, and orchestra. Apart from that, Shawn has been working with numerous other performers throughout his career and his work is strongly influenced by such collaborations.

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