Ludi Leonum by Paul Hindemith
“Lion Games” by Paul Hindemith
This special facsimile edition of Ludus Tonalis (Tonal Game) for piano by Paul Hindemith was created by the composer for his wife’s 50th birthday. Hindemith used colored pencils to draw humorous pictures of lions and lobsters on the score. Why lions and lobsters? The zodiac signs of Hindemith and his wife are Scorpio and Leo.
At first glance, the score appears to be ludicrous. However, another meaning of the Latin stem lud- is school. The lions are teaching form analysis.
In the first fugue (page 4), a Babylonian wall is drawn with red, yellow, and green lions. Each level of the wall represents the three voices. The lions show the entrance of the fugue themes and eventually the overlapping themes on the bottom wall. Lion heads are drawn on the music with corresponding colors to show where the music ideas start.
The 12-tone series and the transformations are analyzed in the Fuga tertia in F (page 13) with long-tailed sleeping lions. The first sleeping lion represents the prime series. When he flips over on his back, he represents the inversion. When his tail starts the series, he is representing retrograde and when he flips over, he is the retrograde inversion. The lions are above, in the middle, and under the grand staff to show which voice in the three-part fugue is represented.
This is a wonderful gift for the serious musician as it provides a great introduction to serialism with a non-threatening approach to form analysis. It is a beautiful, whimsical book to look at as well as a great conversation piece.