A ballet requiring great energy, speed, and precision, Kammermusik No. 2 has a complex structure which echoes that of the music; one of the dancers in the original cast likens it to a computer. The ballet is performed by two couples and an eight-man ensemble. The men, with their jagged lines and stylized gestures, dance to the music of the orchestra. The soloists, dancing to the complex passages for piano, are in counterpoint to the ensemble. There are pas de deux for the couples, duets for the women, and a fast duet for the male soloists. The score is one of seven kammermusik pieces — the word “kammermusik” is German for “chamber music” — written by Hindemith between 1923 and 1933, when the composer turned to a neoclassical style evoking the Baroque.
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), a key representative of the neo-classical school, is considered one of the greatest German composers of this century. He fled the Nazis (who banned his music) and was a professor of music at Yale from 1940-1953. A conductor, violinist, violist, pianist, and theorist, he wrote several books on music theory.