Donald Macleod explores Hindemith's early years as a performer and composer, looking at the impact of World War I on him and his work. Then, Hindemith's radical and very productive years in the 1920s, which led to him being known as an 'enfant terrible'. Donald Macleod follows on by examining Hindemith's stance on the political changes in Germany in the 1930s. Very reluctant to leave his beloved Germany, he tried throughout this period to work out a way of living under the regime. In November 1934, the conductor Furtwangler wrote a newspaper article called The Hindemith Case in defence of the composer. It was a total failure, with Furtwangler having to resign all his positions, and Hindemith's compositions attacked as 'the foulest perversion of modern music'.
Donald Macleod finally looks at Hindemith's experiences as an exile in America, where he was the most performed of the European composers seeking refuge there, and where he held composition classes at Yale which were considered the best in the country. And his final years, including the composition of his opera Harmonie der Welt, which he intended to be the crowning achievement of his life, as well as his fall from favour with the avant-garde.