Johannes Brahms Biography Violin Concerto in D major Opus 77
Johannes Brahms (1833 -1897)German composer, pianist, and conductor, was one of the most significantcomposers of the 19th century. His works greatly enriched the romanticrepertory.His works combine the warm feeling of the Romantic period with the control ofclassical influences such as Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) and Ludwigvan Beethoven (1770–1827).Brahms infused the traditional forms with romantic melody and harmony,respecting the inheritance of the past but making it relevant to his own age.His position of moderation effected a necessary balance in the creative outputof the romantic century and led to high critical esteem by his contemporaries.His orchestral works include 4 symphonies, 2 piano concertos, one violinconcerto and a double concerto for violin and cello. His chamber musicincludes 4 string quartets, 2 string sextets, 2 string quintets, 3 piano quartets,3 piano trios, and violin, cello, piano, and clarinet sonatas.He also wrote choral music and more than 250 lieder,
The son of a musician, he became a piano prodigy. In 1853 he met thecomposer Robert Schumann and his pianist wife, Clara Schumann; Robertimmediately proclaimed him a genius, and Clara became the lifelong object ofhis affections.In 1863 Brahms moved to Vienna, which would remain his principal home untilhis death. He took several positions as choral and orchestral conductor andperformed as a soloist.The success of his German Requiem (1868) gave him an internationalreputation; his first symphony (1876) brought him even greater fame, and hisviolin concerto (1879) and second piano concerto (1882) led many to acclaimhim the greatest living composer.His music complemented and counteracted the rapid growth of Romanticindividualism in the second half of the 19th century.He was a traditionalist in the sense that he greatly revered the subtlety andpower of movement displayed by the Classical composers Haydn, Mozart, andBeethoven. Hungarian Dance No.5
BiographyJohannes Brahms was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1833, the son of JohannJakob and Christina Nissen Brahms.The father, an innkeeper and a musician of moderate ability, earned aprecarious living for his family of five. Johannes received his first musicinstruction from his father.At the age of seven Johannes began studying piano. He played a privatesubscription concert at the age of 10 to obtain funds for his future education.He also learned theory and composition and began to improvise compositionsat the piano. To help out with family finances, Brahms played the piano insailors haunts and local dance salons.Early WorksThe late hours proved taxing to the 14-year-old boy and impaired his health.Brahms was offered a long recuperative holiday at Winsen-an-der-Luhe,where he conducted a small male choir for whom he wrote his first choralcompositions.
On his return to Hamburg he gave several concerts, but, failing to winrecognition, he continued to play at humble places of amusement, gaveinexpensive piano lessons, and began the hackwork of arranging popularmusic for piano.In 1850 Brahms became acquainted with the Hungarian violinist EduardReményi, who introduced him to the rich tradition of gypsy dance tunes thatwere to be influential in his mature compositions.In the next few years Brahms composed several works for piano that are stillin the repertoire: the Scherzo in E-flat Minor (1851), the Sonata in F-sharpMinor (1852), and the Sonata in C Major (1853). Reményi and Brahmsembarked on several successful concert tours in 1853.At Hanover they met one of the greatest German violinists, Joseph Joachim,who arranged for them to play before the King of Hanover and gave them anintroduction to Liszt at Weimar.Joachim also wrote a glowing letter to Robert Schumann expressing hisenthusiasm for the young composer.
The next move was obviously to visit Weimar, where Liszt received themwarmly and was greatly impressed with Brahmss compositions. Liszt hoped torecruit him for his coterie of composers, but Brahms could not adapt to thesuperficiality of Liszts music. Although no open breach occurred, the twomusicians did draw apart.Friendship with the SchumannsIn 1853 Brahms wrote the Piano Sonata in F Minor. Later that year he metSchumann and his wife, Clara, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship.Schumanns enthusiasm for the young composer knew no bounds, in a longarticle in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Scumann praised Brahms musicaltalents and he also arranged for Brahms first compositions to be published.During 1854 he wrote the Piano Trio No. 1, the Variations on a Theme ofSchumann for piano, and the Ballades for piano.Brahms was summoned to Düsseldorf in 1854, when Schumann had a mentalbreakdown and attempted suicide. For the next few years he stayed close to theSchumanns, assisting Clara in whatever way he could and remaining near hereven after Schumanns death in 1856. Hungarian Dance No.4
To earn his living, he taught piano privately but also spent some time on concerttours. Two concerts given with the singer Julius Stockhausen served toestablish Brahms as an important song composer.In 1857 Brahms went to the court of Lippe-Detmold, where he taught the pianoto Princess Friederike and conducted the choral society. Many of his folk-songarrangements were made for this choir.During the summer he went to Göttingen to be near Clara Schumann, for whosechildren he also arranged several folk songs. It was apparent that he was inlove with Clara, 14 years older than he, but either her wisdom prevailed orBrahms decided to keep only an idyllic relationship. Whatever the reason, itspeaks well for both of them that love was replaced by a warm friendship thatlasted to Claras death.While at Göttingen he became passionately interested in the soprano Agathavon Siebold, but this romance, although it brought him nearer to marriage thanany other, soon terminated.
Works of the Middle YearsBrahmss Piano Concerto in D Minor (1858) was performed the next year withJoachim conducting at Hanover, Leipzig, and Hamburg. Only in Hamburg was itfavorably received. During the Lippe-Detmold period Brahms produced the twoSerenades for small orchestra, an evocation of an 18th-century form.He was also appointed conductor of a ladies choir in Hamburg, for whom hewrote the Marienlieder.In 1860 Brahms became enraged at the propaganda that the avant-gardetheories of the "New German" school headed by Liszt were being accepted byall musicians of consequence and took part in a press manifesto against thisgroup of musicians.During this period Brahms moved to Hamburg and buried himself incompositional activities with frequent public appearances sandwiched in. In theyear of the manifesto he completed the Sextet for Strings in B-flat Major and theVariations on an Original Theme for piano, performed by Clara Schumann; thenext year, the Piano Quartets in G Minor and A Major and the well-knownVariations on a Theme of Handel for piano. Danza Húngara No.6
In 1862 his friend Stockhausen was appointed conductor of the HamburgPhilharmonic and the Singakadamie.He then became more and more attracted to Vienna, and in 1863 he gave aconcert there to introduce his songs to the Austrian public. They were wellreceived, especially by the critic Eduard Hanslick, with whom Brahms became afast friend.Brahms also met Wagner at this time, and, although the famous manifesto of1860 made relations between the two composers difficult, each was still onoccasion able to admire some things in the others work.In 1863 Brahms became conductor of the Singakademie in Vienna. A year laterhe resigned, but for the rest of his life Vienna was home to him.He began to do what he had always wished, to make composing, and as hisfame and popularity grew, he composed more and more with only someoccasional teaching and performing.In Baden-Baden in 1864 on a visit to Clara Schumann, he wrote the PianoQuintet in F Minor, and a year later the Horn Trio in E-flat Major.
In 1865 Brahmss mother died. During the next year he worked on the GermanRequiem in her memory.The next years saw a proliferation of activity as a composer. His most importantpublications were the Variations on a Theme of Paganini for piano, the StringSextet in G Major, and several song collections.The year 1869 witnessed the composition of the Liebeslieder Waltzes for pianoduet and vocal quartet and the Alto Rhapsody for contralto, male chorus, andorchestra, as well as the publication of his Hungarian Dances for piano duet.Late MasterpiecesBrahmss father died in 1872. After a short holiday at Baden-Baden, Brahmsaccepted the post of artistic director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde(Friends of Music Society) in Vienna.Imposing masterpieces continued to pour from his pen. In 1873 came theVariations on a Theme of Haydn in two versions, one for orchestra and theother for two pianos; the String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2; and the Songs, Op. 59.
The next year produced the Piano Quartet No. 3; the Songs, Op. 63; and theNeue Liebeslieder Waltzes.Against this background of activity the details of his everyday life seem trivial.He composed, went on concert tours chiefly to foster his own music, and tooklong holidays.During his earlier years Brahms had helped support both his mother and father.Now with that obligation over and with money coming in from all sides, he wasexceedingly well off financially and could do as he pleased.He resigned the conductorship of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1875, foreven those duties were onerous to him. That summer he worked on hisSymphony No. 1 and sketched the Symphony No. 2.In 1880 the University of Breslau offered Brahms a doctorate, in appreciation ofwhich he wrote the Academic Festival Overture and, for good measure, thecompanion Tragic Overture.During the intervening years he had discovered Italy, and for the rest of his lifehe vacationed there frequently. Waltz in A flat - Op.39
Although, vacations for Brahms meant composing, and masterpiece nowfollowed masterpiece: the Violin Concerto in D Major (1878), the Violin Sonatain G Major (1879), the two Rhapsodies for piano (1880), the Piano ConcertoNo. 2 in B-flat Major (1881), the Symphony No. 3 (1883), and the SymphonyNo. 4 (1884). These are the highlights of years filled with innumerable othercompositions and publications.Much of the credit for the universal acceptance of Brahmss orchestral workswas due to the activities of their great interpreter, Hans von Bülow, who hadtransferred his allegiance from the Liszt-Wagner camp to Brahms.In the composers works he felt the logical continuation of the Beethoventradition to be manifest, and Bülow lavished tremendous energy in seeing thatthese compositions received properly executed performances.In his later works Brahms showed an austerity that is in a sense a reflection ofhis own growing inwardness. Always self-critical and impatient with insincerity,he now translated this reserve into the sparseness and restraint of his owncompositions.
This can be observed in the sonatas for various instrumental combinationswritten in 1886, the Concerto for Violin and Cello (1887), and the Violin andPiano Sonata No. 3 (1888).His native Hamburg gave Brahms the keys to the city in 1889. As a thankoffering, he composed the Deutsche Festund Gedenksprüche for eight-partchorus. He also became acquainted with the superb clarinetist RichardMühlfeld, for whom he wrote his exquisite clarinet works. They performedthese compositions all over Germany.When he was about 60 years old, Brahms began to age rapidly and the rangeof his production was noticeably reduced. He often spoke of having arrived atthe end of his creative activity. Nonetheless, the works of this last period areawesome in their grandeur and concentration, and the last of his publishedworks, the Vier ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs), are among the highpoints of his creativity.Brahmss already precarious health was impaired even further by the news ofthe death of Clara Schumann in 1896. On April 3, 1897, he died, ravaged bycancer of the liver. He was buried next to Beethoven and Schubert, honoredby all Vienna and the entire musical world.