for bassoon and piano
professional | 12 minutes


performed by Conor Bell and Jacob Coleman

Video of premiere performance


Program Notes


“There are only twelve tones and they need to be treated carefully.” – Paul Hindemith

Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that I am Hindemith fanatic. Although I detest their choice of words, I reluctantly admit there is truth to them. However, I was not instantly convinced by the music of this marvelous and brilliant composer. I remember the first time I heard Hindemith’s music; I was a senior in high school and had decided to pursue music as a career. One of my mentors suggested that I listen to the music of Paul Hindemith, so I downloaded the North Texas Wind Symphony’s album of Hindemith’s music. The first track was the first movement of Symphony in Bb. I plugged my headphones in and eagerly awaited for what I expected to be beautiful, serene, and harmonious music. The ensemble punched out the first five notes of the piece… and I was appalled. I could not believe that anyone would be so daring to call that music! I immediately dismissed Hindemith as an atonal composer and told myself that I would never write music like that.

A few years later and a little more open-minded, I found myself in an analysis class of 20th century music. One day, my professor played a piece for us called Six Chansons Nach Rilke. Everyone in the class agreed that the music was gorgeous and almost seemed tonal to us. It was then, our professor revealed to us that the composer was none other than Paul Hindemith, the same man whose music I had rejected several years earlier. Now I was curious, so I delved into his theoretical treatise The Craft of Musical Composition. After discovering how seriously Hindemith regarded his craft and how carefully he developed his tonal materials, I listened to as much of his music as I could and I fell in love. I began to hear every piece of his as a journey across diverse tonal landscapes, each one unique and beautiful in its own right. But in the end, each journey had the same destination. The major triad. Home.

Sonata for bassoon and piano was inspired by the numerous sonatas that Hindemith wrote for orchestral instruments. (In fact, it is personal goal of mine to write a sonata for each instrument just as Hindemith once did.) This sonata is very special to me not only because of Hindemith’s profound influence on my music, but also because I wrote it for my dear friend, Conor Bell. Conor’s outstanding musicianship and intellect has always inspired me and continues to do so to this day. This sonata is my gift to him as a symbol of our friendship.

Austin Brake
April 2016
Friendswood, Texas