The Dutch-born American cellist and conductor, (Johannes Hendrikus Philip) Hans Kindler, was born in Rotterdam of German parents. He made his public debut aged 10, and studied at the Rotterdam Conservatory, receiving 1st prize for piano and cello in 1906. He studied under Jean Gerardy and Pablo Casals. He performed as a cello soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker at 18 (1910).
Hans Kindler was named first cellist with the Charlottenburg Opera in 1910. In 1911 he was appointed Professor at Berlin's Klindworth-Schwarwenka Conservatory, and 1st cellist of the Berlin's Deutsches Opernhaus Orchestra. In 1912-1913 he made a successful tour of Europe, and made a considerable reputation. In April 1914, he performed the cello part in the world premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. He also gave first performances of works by Ravel Ferruccio Busoni dedicated an arrangement of J.S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue (BWV 903) for cello and piano to him.
In 1914, while on a tour in the USA, Hans Kindler decided to remain, World War I having broken out. He became Principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski bringing with the 1916-1917 season. In 1916 he gave the world premiere of Bloch's Schelomo at Carnegie Hall. He stayed in Philadelphia until 1920 but then resumed his solo career, both as a concerto soloist under such conductors as Willem Mengelberg, Pierre Monteux and Reiner, and collaborating in chamber music recitals with Ravel and Sergei Rachmaninov. In 1929 he made extensive tours of the USA and Europe and also visited the Far East. But by now he had become an American citizen and taken up conducting and this led to a new career.
In 1927 he made his debut as a conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in 1930, he conducted a concert in Washington, D.C. with an orchestra of unemployed musicians. The concert included world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's Appollon musagete in Washington This being a success, he then devoted himself entirely to conducting, a move which lead him to found a brand new orchestra. Kindler founded the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) in Washington D.C., with the first concert in November, 1931. The National Symphony Orchestra was not financially strong, but Kindler kept alive and conducted until his death in 1949. According to Tim Page's history "...the musicians received a salary of $40.00 per week, for three rehearsals and one concert, for five months of the year..." Despite the Depression, the venture was a great success and resulted in many nationwide tours. Kindler was a champion of modern composers and introduced many new works to his audiences. He also achieved high praise for his moulding of the National Symphony Orchestra and it was soon being ranked alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He led the National Symphony Orchestra on network radio beginning in 1937, and in he and the National Symphony Orchestra began recording for Victor in 1940. Kindler was said to be a difficult person, like many conductors, with constant turnover of National Symphony Orchestra personnel. He stayed with the National Symphony Orchestra for many years and in David Ewen's Dictators of the Baton (1948) the author wrote: "Kindler may not rise to those empyrean heights to which some other conductors may soar, but he is a self-respecting and respected musician who does justice to the great music he performs, and serves his art with humility." That same year he guest-conducted in Europe and received plaudits from critics in Germany and Denmark who compared him with Felix Weingartner and Arturo Toscanini.
At the end of the 1948-1949 season, Hans Kindler left the National Symphony Orchestra following a contractual disagreement. He was succeeded at the National Symphony Orchestra by another cellist conductor Howard Mitchell, who conducted it for the next 20 years until 1969. Following a serious operation he died on August 30, 1949 in Watch Hall, Rhode Island. His death was believed to be a suicide.
Hans Kindler first recorded as a cellist for the Victor Talking Machine Company by the old acoustic method in 1916. Following the introduction of electrical recording, he made a number of discs for Decca in 1929. His first recordings as a conductor were made with the National Symphony Orchestra for RCA Victor in 1940 and these included the first recording of William Schuman's American Festival Overture and the first American recording of Tchaikovsky's 3rd Symphony. Subsequent record sessions in 1941, 1942 and 1945 found Kindler recording such novelties and rarities as George Whitefield Chadwick's Noel, Mary Howe's Stars, Weinberger's Czech Rhapsody, and Dai-Keong Lee's Prelude and Hula. These were recorded alongside more staple orchestral fare, such as Strauss's Don Juan, Smetana's Vltava, and Johannes Brahms's 3rd Symphony which was praised for its "vitality and the glowing brilliance of the orchestra's execution." (The New Records, May 1941). Kindler also recorded for the Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II,
The Kindler Foundation Trust Fund was established in 1983 by the Kindler Foundation to offer concerts and to commission new chamber music in his memory.