Hindemith Turns to Benn
Hindemith's collaboration with Benn, which began in May 1930 and led to the oratorio Das Unaufhörliche (The Unceasing) in 1931, bears witness to his aversion to all political programmes for salvation and redemption of the period, and to his opposition of any political conception or motivation of composition.
In addition, by 1930 he had surely adopted Benn's conception of history, influenced by Nietzsche: «History is without meaning, is not an upward movement, nor a human twilight; a motif of the Orient, a myth of the Mediterranean, it overcomes the Niagara, in order to drown in the bathtub; necessity calls and chance answers. Ecce historia! Here is Today, take its body and eat and die. This teaching seems to me far more radical, more profound in insight and more spiritually momentous than the joyful promises of the political parties.»
Benn presents this interpretation of history in Das Unaufhörliche. The «unceasing» is intended to express the self-transformation of the creation that no one and nothing – neither science, nor progress, art, religion nor love – can defy and to which mankind must calmly and collectedly submit itself.
Hindemith's music had by now been stripped of all elements of experimentation; for all its skill, it made a directly accessible effect, even reaching sonorous -harmonic apotheoses and gaining in warmth and pathos. Hindemith's publisher congratulated him on this work: «I can imagine that the more stalwart ones are somewhat astonished and may even cry out 'desertion,' for this work is really the first truly great creation that has nothing more to do with theories and atonality and the twelve-tone system, but is simpler, the clear expression of a new period and style.»