Gebrauchsmusik (Music for Use)
Hindemith stated: «One will always distinguish between two contrary types of music-making: performance and playing for one's self. Performance is the profession of the musician, playing for one's self is occupation for amateurs.»
The designation «Gebrauchsmusik» has been coined for the music for playing for one's self and then, in addition, for music written with a specific purpose in mind. Hindemith wrote collections of works – Spielmusik for String Orchestra, Flutes and Oboes, Op. 43/1, the Lieder für Singkreise, Op. 43/2, the Schulwerk for Instrumental Ensemble Playing, Op. 44 and the Sing- und Spielmusik für Liebhaber und Musikfreunde (for Amateurs and Friends of Music), Op. 45 - that serve the dual purpose of providing music for amateurs whilst simultaneously leading them in the direction of new music.
He declared his intention in a preface to the cantata Frau Musik, Op. 45/1: «This music is written neither for the concert hall nor for the artist. Its intention is to provide interesting and novel practice material for people who want to sing and play for their own enjoyment, or perform for a small circle of kindred spirits.» Hindemith limited the degree of technical difficulty in these works; in some places he left the instrumentation open so that whatever available instruments could be used. He even allowed that parts of works could be gathered together into different groups or left out. In the Plöner Musiktag, he compiles pieces beginning with a Morgenmusik, a Tafelmusik, a cantata and an evening concert in accordance with the course of the day at the boarding school in Plön. Hindemith composed some of these works on location, «made to order,» after finding out what the musical abilities of the pupils were.
In his later years Hindemith rejected the term «Gebrauchsmusik» because the «ability to be useful» should be «tacitly assumed» in all music.