Principles of Revising Own Works
Hindemith made revisions of his own works during all his creative periods, but especially after the late 1940s. These revisions arose out of very different motivations. Works such as the Kammermusik No. 6 (1927/30), Konzertmusik, Op. 48 (1930), Der Schwanendreher (1935) and the First Piano Sonata (1936) were revised after the first practical attempts at performance. Hindemith also revised the opera Neues vom Tage (1928/29) in 1953/54 and in 1961 for reasons of performance practice.
The revision of the Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, Op. 30 (1923) arose in 1954 from a new aesthetic-stylistic orientation. The revision of the Lieder nach alten Texten, Op. 33 (1923) was undertaken in 1925/26 out of music-theoretical considerations. With the revision of the cantata Frau Musica, Op. 45 (1928) of 1943, Hindemith adapted a work to the new American cultural context. The revision of the opera Cardillac, Op. 39 (1925/26) of 1952/61 was made, on the other hand, for moral-ethical reasons; it is primarily the scenario that was changed.
All these reasons come together in the revised version of Das Marienleben, Op. 27 (1922/23), which Hindemith began in 1935 and only completed in 1948. In the first stage of revision in 1935-1941, music-theoretical and practical performance motifs predominate. Hindemith simplifies the flow of the vocal line and arrives at new music-theoretical insights through the revisionary process. In 1941, following an examination of the revision work undertaken, Hindemith developed a new working idea: he used the larger-scale harmonic-tonal order for the development of a new tonal symbolism. Hindemith assigned the harmonic-tonal events to the characters (Mary, Christ, Angel) and to the emotional spheres (timidity, incomprehensibility, infinity) of Rilke's poems, subjecting all musical dimensions to a planned design that is directly derived from Rilke's poems.
In an introduction to the revised version of Das Marienleben, Hindemith explained his work on the revision, justifying it as a conscious and authoritative compositional development and detached from any specific New Music. With this, he virtually challenged the adherents to the New Music to present a polemic against this revision; as of the present day, a just evaluation of the new version of Das Marienleben has not so far been made.