Hindemith's USA trips of 1937, 1938 and 1939 also enabled him to find out about the American ways of living to which he would have to adapt in case of an emigration to the States. The diary-like notes sent to his wife from these travels reveal his extremely precise, illusion-free powers of perception. He judges things without bias and with a critical distance.
He reported to his wife about his first foray through the streets of New York on 3 April 1937: «In the afternoon I went for a walk amongst the stone buildings. It may be impressive, but it is certainly not beautiful [...] An enormous amount of traffic of course, and everything that impresses the little man. One great shop on Fifth Avenue after another. The Good Lord has the lowest houses, His churches are rather sheepishly squeezed between the more important buildings. Maybe He suffers from false modesty; but it could also be that He wants to show foreigners quite plainly what the people in His own country can do.»
The next year, on 19 February 1938, he summarised his sceptical appraisal: «Last year everything, the city and the bustle, seemed interesting to me in a variety of ways, but this year I hardly notice anything but the most abstruse dreadfulness. It must be terrible to be sentenced here for ever; maybe the people work and bustle so much because they would otherwise come to their senses and see in what a travesty of a world they are spending their lives.»
Hindemith called the United States the land of «limited impossibilities» and lamented to his wife in moments of deep depression: «If you feel like I do after your arrival in this blessed country, we shall make a delightful duo. I'm afraid I shall never really get accustomed to things here; if the monetary transactions runs smoothly and the course of time does not travel in ever more idiotic orbits, one can really only be here temporarily if one does not want to be driven to desperation or to drink - but not even that tastes good here!»
Of course, Hindemith's verdict on the States changed with his growing familiarity with the ways of living and manners of behaviour, and with the feeling of increasing appreciation of his work. He then wrote about New Haven and Yale University: «It is the first place in the country where I feel that one could be a little bit at home. ...» In the same letter he even said: «I am in fact completely prepared to stay here for a long time – with Yale in the background, the thought is quite pleasant – and to keep Switzerland in mind as a summer or autumn residence. After all, this God-forsaken Europe offers us no other good possibilities, and one can work here successfully and without hindrance.»