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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » B » Brahms, Johannes

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Johannes Brahms (5/07/1833 - 4/03/1897)

Born in Hamburg, the son of a double bass player and his older seamstress wife, Brahms attracted the attention of Schumann, to whom he was introduced by the violinist Joachim. After Schumann’s death he maintained a long friendship with the latter’s widow, the pianist Clara Schumann, whose advice he always valued. Brahms eventually settled in Vienna, where to some he seemed the awaited successor to Beethoven. His blend of Classicism in form with a Romantic harmonic idiom made him the champion of those opposed to the musical innovations of Wagner and Liszt. In Vienna he came to occupy a position similar to that once held by Beethoven, his gruff idiosyncrasies tolerated by those who valued his genius.

Orchestral Music

Brahms wrote four symphonies, massive in structure, and all the result of long periods of work and revision. The two early serenades have their own particular charm, while Variations on a Theme by Haydn—in fact the St Anthony Chorale, used by that composer—enjoys enormous popularity, as it illustrates a form of which Brahms had complete mastery. A pair of overtures—the Academic Festival Overture and the Tragic Overture—and arrangements of his Hungarian Dances complete the body of orchestral music without a solo instrument. His concertos consist of two magnificent and demanding piano concertos, a violin concerto and a splendid double concerto for violin and cello.

Chamber Music



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