Objectivity as a Style
The recognition of «ethical necessities of music» and «moral obligations of the musicians» that Hindemith gained from the premiere of Das Marienleben led him to a new fundamental orientation for his music that is regarded as «Neue Sachlichkeit» (New Objectivity). This term, coined in 1923 by Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub to designate tendencies in the visual arts and then transferred to the area of music, describes a successful democratisation of music in opposition to the self-expression of the expressionists.
The music of the «new objectivity,» of which Hindemith was now regarded as the protagonist, is unsentimental, sober, solidly made in terms of form, transparent and concise. It disdains what is «expressive,» without being inexpressive and can stylistically refer to the music of long past epochs, such as baroque music. It looks for support in society and in the institutions of cultural life, and wishes to make itself useful.
Hindemith determined that «the times of always composing for its own sake are gone for ever. On the other hand, however, there is such a great need for music that it is urgently necessary for the composer and the user to finally come to an understanding.» And: «There are hardly any technical tasks in music today that we cannot manage. The technical and purely artistic questions recede to the background somewhat. What concerns all of us is this: the old audience is dying out; how and what must we write in order to gain a different, larger audience; where is this audience?»
Hindemith primarily wrote music for which there was a need and that was requested from him: music for the institutions of musical life (opera, concert, Kammermusik), music for new media (radio, mechanical instruments). Although he wrote highly virtuoso music such as the 5th String Quartet, Op. 32, the Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 38 and the series of Kammermusiken Nos. 2-7 on the one hand, he also created works for special purposes such as the Three Anecdotes for radio which precisely adhered to the possibilities for broadcasting over the radio at that time.