Hindemith Kabinett


The Kuhhirtenturm, or cowherd’s tower, in Große Rittergasse is a fortified Gothic tower from the last quarter of the 14th century. From early 2010, the tower was redeveloped on behalf of the City of Frankfurt by Jo. Franzke architects under the development plan for Alt-Sachsenhausen, the historic part of Sachsenhausen; the aim was to create a Hindemith memorial open to the public. The so-called Hindemith-Kabinett, or Hindemith Gallery, was planned and set up by the Hindemith Institute of Frankfurt and financed by the Hindemith Foundation. The musician and composer lived and worked here from 1923 until 1927; it was at the Kuhhirtenturm that he composed his first full-length opera, Cardillac, as well as numerous pieces of chamber music and orchestral works, amongst others.

The exhibition on the life and work of Hindemith is located on the first and second floors. It presents numerous facsimiles of documents from the composer’s estate held at the Hindemith Institute in Frankfurt and gives an overview of the most important stages of his life and career. In addition to the permanent exhibition, there is a film for visitors to watch as well as original objects that used to belong to Hindemith, such as his viola d’amore, an album with personal photographs and his train set. A media unit plays recordings of Hindemith performing his own works. On the third floor, there is a space used for small temporary exhibitions on different topics. As part of the “Phänomen Expressionismus” project by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, the current temporary exhibition is dedicated to Hindemith and Expressionism. The music room with the grand piano situated on the top floor is quite literally the high point of the Hindemith Gallery. Here, the concert series “Chamber music at the Kuhhirtenturm” and other events take place.

Times and dates for concerts and guided tours of the Kuhhirtenturm can be found in the events calendar at www.kultur-frankfurt.de, amongst others. The tower is open every Sunday from 11am until 6pm; visits at other times can be arranged by appointment, please call the Hindemith Institute on 069/ 597 03 62 or Frankfurt Culture Board on 069/212 33 952. Admission is €3, concessions €1.50. Included in the ticket price are two brochures: one on the history and architecture of the Kuhhirtenturm published by the City Planning Council and the Culture Board, the other on the life and work of Hindemith published by the Frankfurt Hindemith Institute

The Kuhhirtenturm

The Kuhhirtenturm is a complex consisting of a tower and a gate-house, remnants of Sachsenhausen’s medieval fortifications and city wall. The Kuhhirtenturm, known in the vernacular as the “elephant” due to its bulk, is one of the landmarks of this district and a listed monument. It got its name presumably in the early 19th century, when it was decided to convert Frankfurt’s fortified towers into housing for the poor as there was no further military use for them. The first person to move into the “elephant” was Sachsenhausen’s cowherd, hence the name cowherd’s tower; after that, the building had several other tenants. Severely damaged in World War II, the tower was reconstructed in 1957. The tower’s original roof was replaced by a timber-frame construction. After different interim uses such as youth clubs and private flats, the tower now houses an exhibition and lecture space of the Hindemith Foundation.

Hindemith and Frankfurt

Born in Hanau in 1895, at the age of 10 Hindemith moved to Frankfurt where he was to live and work for the next 22 years. Hindemith received a scholarship to study violin at the music academy Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium and in 1916 – at only 20 years of age – he became concert-master of the Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra, a position he left in 1923 in order to work exclusively as a composer and viola player. After a youth spent in the Gallus district, Hindemith moved out of a flat near Frankfurt’s Old Opera House in 1923, where he had lived during his time as concert-master, and moved into the Kuhhirtenturm in Sachsenhausen. At the time, he was a member of the internationally renowned Amar Quartet founded by him in 1922. In 1924, he married Gertrud Rotenberg - the daughter of his employer of many years at the Opera House and granddaughter of the former Lord Mayor Franz Adickes – who moved into the tower that had previously stood unoccupied for several years. In preparation, Hindemith had had the tower renovated with the municipal authorities’ permission and at his own expense for $ 1,000 of inflation currency.

While he was living at the tower, he composed the Concerto for Orchestra, op. 38 (1925), chamber music and orchestral works as well as the opera Cardillac after E.T.A. Hoffmann. In 1927, he was offered a professorship at the Berlin Music Academy and left Frankfurt. His mother and sister continued to live at Kuhhirtenturm until 1943. In 1936, Hindemith’s works were officially banned in Germany and could no longer be performed in public. After lengthy stays in Switzerland, Turkey and the US, Hindemith emigrated to the latter in 1940 where he taught at Yale University in New Haven. In 1946, he was naturalized. From 1947 onwards, he returned to Europe for extended visits. He even taught in Zurich from 1951 and moved to Switzerland, near Lake Geneva, in 1953. He died in 1963 at Marienhospital in Frankfurt.

Municipal museum of the City of Frankfurt

Free admission for children and young persons under 18

Back  |  Print  |  Send site tip
Gro├če Rittergasse 118
60594 Frankfurt am Main