About this work
At one point in his career, concerned as always about the artist's proper role in society, Hindemith espoused what he called Gebrauchsmusik or "useful music," meaning music written for a practical purpose. The composition of this work is an impressive example. He was already in the London studios of the BBC one afternoon preparing a concert when word was received of the death of King George V. In the few hours remaining before the concert he wrote a substitute piece, this Funeral Music, with time left to have the parts copied for string orchestra, learn to play the solo viola part, and rehearse the whole thing. The wonderful thing is that the result of this very rushed labor is a fine and touching, austere and unusually serene piece of music.