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234th Season

Johannes Brahms


Brahms, Johannes (b Hamburg, 1833; d Vienna, 1897). Ger. composer and pianist. Son of db. player in Hamburg State Th. In childhood was taught vn. by father, pf. by Otto Cossel, and comp. by Eduard Marxsen. Public dйbut as pianist, Hamburg, Sept. 1848. Earned living from age of 13 by teaching and by playing at theatres, for dances, and in taverns frequented by prostitutes. In 1853 engaged to acc. Hung. vn. virtuoso Remйnyi on a concert tour. While in Hanover met Joachim, who was impressed by youth‘s comps. and gave him letters of introduction to Liszt and Schumann. Latter hailed him as genius in an article entitled Neue Bahnen (New Paths) in the Neue Zeitschrift fьr Musik of 28 Oct. 1853. After Schumann‘s death in 1856, Brahms became pf. teacher to Princess Friederike and choral cond. at little court of Lippe-Detmold 1857-60, unexacting duties which left him time for comp. In 1860 signed famous manifesto opposing ‘new music’ methods adopted by Liszt and his followers and thereafter was regarded as the polar opposite to Wagnerian sch. in Ger. mus. His first pf. conc. had been a failure at its f.p. in Leipzig on 27 Jan. 1859 and it was not until nearly 10 years later, with Ein Deutsches Requiem, that he achieved a major success. In 1862 first visited Vienna, where he lived for most of next 35 years. Cond. Vienna Singakademie for 1863-4 season, and in 1872 succeeded Rubinstein as art. dir. of Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, holding post until 1875. Thereafter his life was uneventful except for comp. of major works and tours as pianist.
Brahms was a master in every form of comp. except opera, which he never attempted. He eschewed programme-mus. and wrote in the classical forms, yet his nature was essentially romantic. His 4 syms. are superb examples of his devotion to classical mus. architecture within which he introduced many novel thematic developments. In the chamber mus. practically every work is a masterpiece; his 4 concs. are indispensable features of concert life, and his songs, numbering nearly 200, are closely based on Ger. folk-songs but are polished and refined to a highly sophisticated degree. His prin. comps. are:

SYMPHONIES: No.1 in C minor, Op.68 (1855-76; f.p. Karlsruhe, 6 Nov. 1876, cond. Dessoff); No.2 in D major, Op.73 (1877; f.p. Vienna, 30 Dec. 1877, cond. Richter); No.3 in F major, Op.90 (1883; f.p. Vienna, 2 Dec. 1883, cond. Richter); No.4 in E minor, Op.98 (1884-5; f.p. Meiningen, 25 Oct. 1885, cond. Bьlow).

CONCERTOS: pf., No.1 in D minor, Op.15 (1854-8; f.p. Leipzig, 27 Jan. 1859, Brahms soloist); No.2 in Bb major, Op.83 (1878-81; f.p. Budapest, 9 Nov. 1881, Brahms soloist); vn., in D major, Op.77 (1878; f.p. Leipzig, 1 Jan. 1879, cond. Brahms, Joachim soloist); vn. and vc. in A minor, Op.102 (1887; f.p. Cologne, 15 Oct. 1887, soloists Joachim (vn.), R. Hausmann (vc.), cond. Brahms).

CHAMBER MUSIC: str. sextets No.1 in Bb major, Op.18 (1858-60), No.2 in G major, Op.36 (1864-5); str. qts., Op.51, No.1 in C minor, No.2 in A minor (1859-73), No.3 in Bb major, Op.67 (1876); str. quintets, No.1 in F major, Op.88 (1882), No.2 in G major, Op.111 (1890); cl. quintet in B minor, Op.115 (1891); pf. qts., No.1 in G minor, Op.25 (1861), No.2 in A major, Op.26 (1861-2), No.3 in C minor, Op.60 (1855-75); pf. quintet in F minor, Op.34 (1864); pf. trios, No.1 in B major, Op.8 (1853-4, rev. version 1889), No.2 in C major, Op.87 (1880-2), No.3 in C minor, Op.101 (1886); hn. trio in Eb major, Op.40 (1865); vc. sonatas, No.1 in E minor, Op.38 (1862-5), No.2 in F major, Op.99 (1886); vn. sonatas, No.1 in G major, Op.78 (1878-9), No.2 in A major, Op.100 (1886), No.3 in D minor, Op.108 (1886-8); cl. (or va.) trio in A minor, Op.114 (1891); cl. (or va.) sonatas, Op.120, No.1 in F minor, No.2 in Eb major (both 1894); Scherzo in C minor, vn., pf. (1853).

MISC. ORCH.: Serenades, No.1 in D, Op.11 (1857-8), No.2 in A, Op.16 (1858-9, rev. 1875); 3 Hungarian Dances (1873); Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op.56a (1873); Akademische Festouvertьre (Academic Festival Overture) Op.80 (1880); Tragic Ov., Op.81 (1880, rev. 1881).

CHORUS & ORCH.: Ein Deutsches Requiem, sop., bar., ch., and orch., Op.45 (1857-68); Rinaldo, ten., male ch., and orch., Op.50 (1863-8); Rhapsody for cont., male ch., and orch., Op.53 (1869); Schicksalslied, ch. and orch., Op.54 (1871); Triumphlied, ch. and orch., Op.55 (1870-1); Nдnie, ch. and orch., Op.82 (1880-1); Gesang der Parzen, ch. and orch., Op.89 (1882).

PIANO: sonatas, No.1 in C major, Op.1 (1852-3), No.2 in F# minor, Op.2 (1852), No.3 in F minor, Op.5 (1853); Scherzo in Eb minor, Op.4 (1851); Variations on a Theme by R. Schumann, in F# minor, Op.9 (1854); 4 Ballades (No.1 in D minor, No.2 in D, No.3 in B minor, No.4 in B), Op.10 (1854); Variations on a Theme by R. Schumann, in Eb, Op.23, pf. duet (1861); Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op.24 (1861);Hungarian Dances (21 pf. duets) (1852-69); Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op.35 (1862-3); 16 Waltzes, Op.39, pf. duet (1865, arr. for solo pf. 1867); Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op.56b (2 pf.) (1873); Liebesliederwalzer, Op.52, 18 waltzes for SATB and pf. 4 hands (1868-9); Op.52a (without vocal parts) (1874); Neue Liebesliederwalzer, Op.65, 15 waltzes for SATB and pf. 4 hands (1874); Op.65a, without vocal parts (1875); pf. quintet in F minor, Op.34, arr. for 2 pf. as Op.34a; rhapsodies, intermezzos, and studies.

ORGAN: 11 Choral Preludes, Op.122 (pubd. 1896 in 2 books) Bk. I: 1, Mein Jesu, der du mich. 2, Herzliebster Jesu. 3, O Welt, ich muss dich lassen. 4, Herzlich tut mich erfreuen. Bk. II: 5, Schmьcke dich, O liebe Seele. 6, O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen. 7, O Gott, du frommer Gott. 8, Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen. 9, Herzlich tut mich verlangen. 10, O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (II); Fugue in A minor (1856); Prelude and Fugue in A minor (1856); Prelude and Fugue in G minor (1857).

PART-SONGS etc.: 4 Part-Songs, Op.17, women‘s vv., 2 hns., harp (1860); 7 Marienlieder, Op.22, mixed ch.; Ps. XIII, Op.27, women‘s vv., pf. (1859); 2 Motets, Op.29, unacc. ch. (1860); Geistliches Lied (Lass dich nur nichts dauern), Op.30, ch., org. or pf. (1856); 3 Quartets, Op.31, solo vv., pf. (1859-63); 3 Sacred Ch., Op.37, unacc. women‘s vv. (1859-63); 5 Soldatenlieder, Op.41, unacc. male ch. (1861-2); 3 Lieder (incl. Abendstдndchen), Op.42, unacc. mixed ch. (1859-61); 12 Lieder und Romanzen, Op.44, unacc. women‘s vv. (1859-63); 7 Lieder, Op.62, unacc. (1874); 3 Quartets, Op.63, 4 solo vv., pf. (1862-74); 2 Motets, Op.74, unacc. (1863-77); 4 Quartets, Op.92, solo vv., pf. (1877-84); 6 Lieder und Romanzen, Op.93a, unacc. (1883-4); Tagelied, Op.93b, unacc. (1884); 11 Zigeunerlieder, Op.103, 4 vv., pf. (1887); 5 Lieder, Op.104, unacc. (1888); Deutsche Fest- und Gedenksprьche, Op.109, unacc. double ch. (1886-8); 3 Motets, Op.110, unacc. (1889); 6 Vocal Quartets, Op.112, unacc. (1889-91); 13 Canons, Op.113, women‘s vv., pf. (1863-90); also 14 Ger. Folksongs, unacc. (1864); 14 Volks-Kinderlieder, vv., pf. (pubd. 1858).

SONG-CYCLES: Die schцne Magelone, Op.33, v. and pf., 15 Romanzen from Magelone (L. Tieck, 1773-1853): 1, Keinen hat es noch gereut. 2, Traun! Bogen und Pfeil. 3, Sind es Schmerzen, sind es Freuden. 4, Liebe kam aus fernen Landen. 5, So willst du des Armen. 6, Wie soll ich die Freude. 7, War es dir? 8, Wir mьssen uns trennen. 9, Ruhe, Sьssliebchen. 10, So tцnet denn. 11, Wie schnell verschwindet. 12, Muss es eine Trennung geben. 13, Geliebter, wo zaudert dein irrender Fuss. 14, Wie froh und frisch. 15, Treue Liebe dauert lange. (1861-8); Vier ernste Gesдnge, Op.121, low v., pf. (orch. by Sargent) (1896).

SONGS: Brahms published over 200 songs, from his Op.3 (1852-3) to his Op.107 (1886). Among the best known, with poets’ names, are: Abend-dдmmerung (Schack), Op.49, No.5 (1868); Am Sonntag Morgen (Heyse), Op.49, No.1 (1868); An eine Aeolsharfe (Mцrike), Op.19, No.5 (1859); Auf dem Kirchhofe (Liliencron), Op.105, No.4 (1886); Blinde Kuh (Kopisch), Op.58, No.1 (1871); Botschaft (Daumer), Op.47, No.1 (c.1860); Dein blaues Auge (Groth), Op.59, No.8 (1873); Es liebt sich so lieblich (Heine), Op.71, No.1 (1877); Feldeinsamkeit (Allmers), Op.86, No.2 (1877-8); Geistliches Wiegenlied (Geibel), with va. obb., Op.91, No.2 (1884); Gestillte Sehnsucht (Rьckert), with va. obb., Op.91, No.1 (1884); Immer leise (Ling), Op.105, No.2 (1886); Der Jдger (Halm), Op.95, No.4 (1884); Kein Haus, keine Heimat (Halm), Op.94, No.5 (1884); Komm bald (Groth), Op.97, No.5 (1884); Der Kranz (Schmidt), Op.84, No.2 (1881); Lerchengesang (Candidus), Op.70, No.2 (1877); Liebestreu (Reinick), Op.3, No.1 (1853); Das Mдdchen spricht (Gruppe), Op.107, No.3 (1886); Die Mainacht (Hцlty), Op.43, No.2 (1868); Mein Herz ist schwer (Geibel), Op.94, No.3 (1884); Mit vierzig Jahren (Rьckert), Op.94, No.1 (1884); Die Nachtigall (Reinhold), Op.97, No.1 (1884); Nachtigallen schwingen (Fallersleben), Op.6, No.6 (1853); O kьhler Wald (Brentano), Op.72, No.3 (1876-7); Salome (Keller), Op.69, No.8 (1877); Sapphische Ode (Schmidt), Op.94, No.4 (1884); Sonntag (Uhland), Op.47, No.3 (c.1865); Stдndchen (Kugler), Op.106, No.1 (1886); Steig auf, geliebter Schatten (Halm), Op.94, No.2 (1884); Therese (Keller), Op.86, No.1 (1877); Vergebliches Stдndchen (trad.), Op.84, No.4 (1881); Verzagen (Lemcke), Op.72, No.4 (1877); also several duets and 7 vols. containing 49 Ger. folk-song settings.

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