Hindemith and Violas


This is unusual – I’m not commenting on pronunciation or usage this time, but asking for help. I’ve been asked to provide a translation of the German-language instructions to performers for the programme of our local Music Club, where we are about to have a recital of viola and piano works. Mostly, it’s straightforward, because the terms used have their equivalents in Italian, and from there to English is a very small step.

However, Hindemith poses me a problem. His Sonata for Viola and Piano, Opus 25 No 4, is in three movements, marked
1. Sehr lebhaft. Markiert und kraftvoll
2. Sehr langsame Viertel
3. Finale. Lebhafte Viertel

What does ‘Viertel’ mean in this context? It can’t be “quarter” as the work is in three movements, but might it have something to do with the speed of the crochets (quarter-notes)? I’ve translated the first movement as “Very lively. Emphatic and forceful” (I suppose the Italian would have been ‘marcato e con forza’), but even for that, if anyone can come up with a better version, I would be pleased to see it.


  1. Yes, crotchets, unambiguously.

  2. Markiert, I think – but that’s indeed less of a question of language equivalents than of music, being the same in German and English – refers to the rhythm, ie emphasis on the first and third crotchet in this case.
    “Marked” works, though it can have the specific meaning of “flagged”, as it were, which “markiert” lacks. “Emphatic” is fine, of course.

  3. First and fourth, sorry.

  4. Philip -Thank you for this prompt reply. I’ve decided to translate ‘Sehr langsame Viertel’ as “Very slow crotchets”. I hope any readers will understand.

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