Tag Archives: Eric Simon

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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How the “King of Swing” Became my Pilot Study for Commissioning Classical Music

Some years ago, when I more often played the clarinet myself, I put Aaron Copland’s clarinet concerto on my music stand. “For Benny Goodman,” it read on the top of the first page. What hasn’t really attracted my attention before, now distracted me from practicing the challenging cadenza: When, how, why was this piece created? I started reading and researching, and soon learned that Goodman commissioned Copland to write a concerto for him in 1947/48 for 2,000 US dollars.

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