Hindemith's early childhood was marked by his father's draconian style of upbringing. He brought up his children with extreme harshness, attempting to secure upward mobility for them (that had been denied him) through «colossally strict drill starting at the earliest age» and «the most precise inspection.»
The happiest days of Paul's childhood were spent with his paternal grandparents in Naumburg am Queis between 1899 and 1902. His grandfather was the mayor of the town; his residence on the marketplace also housed a small business. After Paul's return to his parents' house, his father commented on his son's two-year stay in a letter of 11 June 1913 to Emma Ronnefeldt: «At one time in my life I handed over our eldest [Paul] to my parents at age 3 until he was 6. By the time I sent him there, I had already trained him quite well in ear-training and music, but by the time I picked him up from school the boy was completely spoiled. Nonetheless, my parents were well-educated people but they were old and their grandson was such a little lord; the urchin had to make amends for that at first until the zest was in him again.»
Paul went to school in 1902 in Mühlheim am Main. He emerged as the best in his class in 1905 but had to leave after completing elementary school because there was no money for any further education.
The relationship between Paul and his father remained tense for the rest of the latter's life. Even long after his father's death, it was said that Paul was frightened at the notion that his father could unexpectedly return (H.H. Stuckenschmidt).
[A transcription of the letter is in the mediatheque.]