This ground-breaking interdisciplinary study of Paul Hindemith's important opera Mathis der Maler draws together the three major sources that inspired the composition.Siglind Bruhn shows that only a recognition of the significant parallel in the lives of the composer, the Renaissance painter Grünewald on whom the operatic Mathis is modeled, and the main character depicted in Grünewald's masterpiece, Saint Antony, will open the doors to a full understanding of the composer's musical testimony. Bruhn begins by exploring the significance of the historical Antony within the spiritual and artistic traditions. Based on the interpretations of art historians and theologians, she then presents a fascinating reading of Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece and its singular importance for the opera. Turning to the opera itself, she examines the libretto as a symbolic representation of the dilemma in the lives of Grünewald and Hindemith and, finally and prominently, she interprets the music against the background of the spiritual plight that drives the plot.
A musicologist, concert pianist, and interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on compositions of the 20th century. Prior to coming to the United States, she taught for ten years in Germany and at the University of Hong Kong. Since 1993 she has been a full-time researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities (one of six “Life Research Associates”); in the fall of 2004, she was appointed chercheur permanent at the Institut d’Esthétique des Arts Contemporains at Université de Paris 1–La Sorbonne. She has been an elected member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2001.