Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen

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Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen
Opera by Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith 1923.jpg
The composer in 1923
Translation Murderer, Hope of Women
Librettist Oskar Kokoschka
Language German
Based on Kokoschka's play Mörder Hoffnung der Frauen
Premiere 4 June 1921 (1921-06-04)
Landestheater Stuttgart

Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, Hope of Women)[1] is an opera in one act by Paul Hindemith, written in 1919 on a German libretto by Oskar Kokoschka which he based on his play of 1907.[1] The opera was the first in a triptych of expressionist one-act operas, the others being Das Nusch-Nuschi, and Sancta Susanna. They were the first operas written by Hindemith.[2] The first two were premiered together in Stuttgart on 4 June 1921, all three were performed at the Frankfurt Opera in 1922.


Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen was the first piece in a triptych of one-act operas by Hindemith influenced by Expressionism. The artist and writer Oskar Kokoschka wrote the play of the same name in 1907 and modified it several times.[3] Hindemith experienced World War I as a soldier in Belgium and Northern France. In a second wave of expressionism after the war, he became interested in the movement and composed the work in 1919.[1] He based it on the last version of the play, which he set with only few cuts.[3] The musicologist Joel Haney notes that he "attempts to give mythic expression to a violent struggle between the sexes".[4]

The opera was first performed, together with Das Nusch-Nuschi, on 4 June 1921 at the Landestheater in Stuttgart,[5] conducted by Fritz Busch and staged by Otto Erhardt. The artist Oskar Schlemmer was responsible for the stage set, costums and choreography.[1] The duration is given as 24 minutes.[1]

Roles and performers[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere cast,[6] 4 June 1921
(Conductor: Fritz Busch)
Man baritone Theodor Scheidl
Woman soprano Erna Ellmenreich
First soldier tenor
Second soldier bass
Third soldier tenor
First maid soprano
Second maid contralto
Third maid soprano

Music and reception[edit]

The conductor Leon Botstein describes the work as "more symphonic than operatic",[7] structured in four distinct sections, equivalent to the movements of a symphony. Hindemith draws on models from Richard Strauss regarding instrumentation, from Franz Schreker's "opulence", and Richard Wagner's lyricism, at times in irony, for example when the second theme alludes to Tristan und Isolde.[7] The musicologist Giselher Schubert summarizes "Direct expression and deliberate formal design are not at odds in this expressionism, but rather rely on each other."[8]

The premiere resulted in a succès de scandale: while some critics appreciated "a composer of enormous talent and promise", negative responses established Hindemith’s "reputation as a young upstart".[7]

Performances and recordings[edit]

The opera was recorded in 1987 by the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the RIAS-Kammerchor, conducted by Gerd Albrecht, with Franz Grundheber as the Man and Gabriele Schnaut as the Woman.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Schott 2017.
  2. ^ Kingsbury, Stephen. "Paul Hindemith Compositions". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Albrecht 1987.
  4. ^ Haney 2008, p. 339.
  5. ^ Skelton 1992.
  6. ^ Almanacco 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Botstein 1996.
  8. ^ Schubert 2004.


External links[edit]