Hindemith's title of his four-movement von Weber suite of 1943 poses a problem. The composer's characteristic reticence about his sources delayed their documentation for some twenty years, whereupon it was found that the Symphonic Metamorphosis was based, not only on themes, but on complete pieces. Rather than "thematic transformation," the "metamorphosis" of the title would thus be more accurately regarded as "recomposition," in which changes of tone system, timbre, harmony, rhythm, and form, in addition to the melody itself, transform every level and component of the original composition's structure. This study attempts to demonstrate how Hindemith achieves such a metamorphosis in the "Turandot Scherzo" through a compositional process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, with, as a catalyzing agent, rhythm or the manipulation of time.

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Copyright © 1996, College Music Society. This article first appeared in College Music Symposium: 36 (1996), 1-15.

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