Hindemith had an ambivalent attitude towards his early works. When he wrote the works, he commented on them effusively, proudly and happily in letters to friends. But only a few years later, in full awareness of his compositional ability, he disparaged them as «old-fashioned stuff» and «absolutely unenjoyable,» taking no trouble to ensure either their performance or publication. On the other hand, he did not repudiate them but always counted them as his first works and, towards the end of his life, even suggested the publication of some of these works in an eventual complete edition of his works. The comparison of Hindemith's own commentaries clarifies his growing self-confidence as a composer on the one hand, and the breadth and intensity of his then incipient compositional development on the other.
Piano Quintet, Op. 7
Letter of 1917/18: «Then of course it must get going as if the devil were making a barrage. The strings must get down to it like crazy, but the piano must not play too loudly at first so that one can still hear a bit of the strings. Afterwards, where the theme is in the piano and the accompaniment in the strings, the former naturally breezes along like there's no tomorrow. The tempo is fast. This section must sound incredibly raw and barbaric...» Mid-1930s: «That was meant completely seriously, I made some ‹concessions.› It was supposed to be a gigantic work: this was only the first part. Soon it seemed a bit ridiculous to me so I left it alone.»
3 Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 9
Letter of June 1917: «Sekles is now completely delighted after having seen the whole thing. He thinks the instrumentation is masterly. I am very proud of this opus.»
Letter of May 1922: «Ancient things that someone put on the programme without my knowledge. I withdrew them of course.»
Mid-1930s: «And with this ‹enormous achievement› I thought I had now brushed all difficulties aside and become the assured man.»