Right ... Hindemith fans recognize that his music is considered uninspired, arid, and cerebral. Adorno once damned Hindemith's music as reactionary ... though after hearing works by Boulez and Stockhausen, apparently, Adorno decided to say that Hindemith was a competent reactionary. That label seems to have stuck.
Essays on Music: Selected, with introduction, commentary and notes by Richard Leppert; new translations by Susan H. Gillespie
University of California Press
(c) 2002 by Regents of University of California
On the Aging of the New Music (1955) translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor and Frederic Will
... Musical logic becomes a caricature of logic, one that is certainly implicit in it from the start, in the rigid interdiction of anything that the system finds foreign, the latter being left to atrophy. Already in the first measure the listener senses with resignation that he has been turned over to an infernal machine, which will run its course mercilessly, until fate has completed its cycle and he can breathe again.
To be sure most of the younger twelve-tone composers are less demanding. Unfamiliar with the real accomplishment of the Schoenberg School and in possession only of the rules of twelve-tone composition, which has become apocryphal through separation from its accomplishment, these young people amuse themselves with the juggling of tone rows as a substitute for tonality, without really composing at all. This touches on a genuinely paradoxical situation: the disappearance of tradition within New Music itself. The innovators, Schoenberg, Bartok, Stravinsky, Webern, Berg, even Hindemith, were all raised on traditional music. Their idiom, their critical stance, their resistance, all crystallized around that tradition. This tradition is no longer a living part of their successors. In its place they turn what is in itself a critical musical ideal into an artificially positive one, without summoning up the spontaneity and effort that it requires. This failing can hardly be cast as a reproach. ...
...There is reason to suspect that those who have not mastered the new material are also unable to control the other, that they cannot compose an irreproachable four-voice Palestrina setting, and in many cases can hardly harmonize a chorale. The pedagogical virtues of the academy have been lost without the realm of freedom having been entered.
Adorno regarded him as a reactionary, but he granted that when Hindemith rebelled against the kitsch of the late Romantic era he knew what he was rebelling against and had the technique and craft to explore alternatives. Without a connection to a tradition to effectively resist the new modernism was bereft of the competencies of the old musical establishment with a formulaic misunderstanding of the aims of the newer Schoenberg-era school. Which ... reminds me that Adorno formulated withering criticisms of the aging of the New Music that have since been taken up by other writers such as Roger Scruton and John Borstlap. Paradoxically, Adorno wrote that conservatives and reactionaries can more clearly grasp the failures of modernist music than moderately liberal sorts.
We had something about that last weekend.