Opera and Concert
Ludwig Rottenberg was the conductor of the Frankfurt Opera at the time Hindemith joined the orchestra; he especially gained a reputation for the cultivation of contemporary music. He conducted operas by Eugène d'Albert, Béla Bartók, Peter Cornelius, Claude Debussy, Frederick Delius, Erich W. Korngold, Franz Schreker, Rudi Stephan and Richard Strauss, making the Frankfurt Opera into a centre of contemporary opera.
In his obituary for Rottenberg, Theodor W. Adorno wrote in 1932: «He performed modern operas long before they had arrived; he was the first in Germany to perform Pelléas of Debussy and the first to conduct Schreker, whose fame is due to Rottenberg's performances. He also conducted Hindemith's one-act operas outstandingly: unforgettably fine, slender and subtle were the dances in Nusch-Nuschi. [...] As a conductor he had truly great days, and these were not only the premieres.»
Rottenberg appreciated the multiple talents of his young concertmaster: «Paul Hindemith is an extraordinarily gifted musician – I know very remarkable compositions by him – an outstanding violinist,» as he appraised him in 1917.
The Opera Orchestra also performed the subscription concerts of the Frankfurt Museum Society, whose musical direction lay in the hands of such well-known conductors as Willem Mengelberg, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Fritz Busch and Hermann Scherchen. With his concert programmes, which included the works of the classicists Beethoven and Schubert as well as those by Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Wagner right up to the (then) very contemporary compositions of Strauss and Reger, the Orchestra revealed itself to be very open to contemporary modernism. Mengelberg's commitment to the music of Gustav Mahler made Frankfurt into an important centre for the cultivation of that composer's music.