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  Gebrauchsmusik (German, ‘utility music’), in the wider sense, means any music conceived as a support for other activities (film music is a prime example), and the whole gebrauchsmusik concept is analogous to commercial art. In the narrower sense, it was a type of music written in the 1920s by a group of German composers led by Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill, and influenced by the views of Brecht and the Bauhaus: that art of all kinds, graphic art, music, poetry, theatre, should be useful as well as beautiful, should serve practical needs and speak to the widest possible audience a direct negation of the earlier art for art\'s sake ideal. Utility music consisted of songs, marches and cantatas with patriotic or political texts (exhorting people to work hard was a favourite theme), of teaching pieces for both children and adults—some of Hindemith\'s most appealing short compositions—and of larger-scale concert and music-theatre works with a wide popular appeal (Weill\'s The Threepenny Opera is typical).

Gebrauchsmusik, as a movement, died at the time of World War II, though its ideas lived on in the utilitarian music demanded of composers in the then East Germany. Weill, Hindemith and the others turned to other things, though even there the ideals of usefulness and accessibility persisted in Weill\'s Broadway musicals on patriotic themes, for example, or Hindemith\'s set of sonatas, one for each orchestral instrument. KMcL



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