Travels to Turkey
The background for Hindemith's travels to Turkey was formed by the extensive reforms that the Turkish state founder and President Kemal Atatürk had begun to implement since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Strongly orientated on Western models, these reforms also affected the education of musicians, which was to be organised according to the German prototype.
In late 1934 the Turkish commissary In Berlin, Cevat Bey, was entrusted with the task of finding a suitable personality to organise the creation of musical education centres. Wilhelm Furtwängler recommended Hindemith, who reacted positively to the offer following the continued attacks against him. On 13 February 1935 he wrote to his publisher: «I have not turned it down; [Cevat Bey] has sent his report there and I shall soon travel there in order to have a look at everything. I don't want to go there for a long time, but gladly for a few months a year.»
Soon thereafter, Hindemith set off on the first of four trips to Turkey. He dedicated himself to the task assigned him with great enthusiasm, writing several reports summarising his suggestions for the development of Turkish musical life. The organisation of a well-founded training of music teachers and musicians was at the centre of his efforts.
The musicians whom he brought to Ankara for this purpose were mostly Jews from Germany who were thus able to escape persecution by the National Socialists. He drafted a charter for the projected new conservatory and prepared examination regulations for the teacher training seminar. He also concerned himself with practical problems such as the maintenance or repair of the ramshackle instruments and the procurement of scores. He made plans for concert programmes and argued in favour of building an opera house. He spoke out against the «Europeanization» of Turkish music, insisting that Turkish art music must be founded on the basis of their own folk music.