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Biography of the German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms

personalities : Biography of the German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms, a German composer and pianist who wrote concerts and symphonies, composed chamber music and piano works, and songwriter. The great master of the sonata style of the second half of the 19th century can be considered as a follower of the classical tradition of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

His works combine the warmth of the romantic period with the severity of Bach's classical influence.

The content of the article

  • Young pianist and conductor
    • The origins of gypsy motifs in the music of the composer
  • Vienna becomes the home of Brahms
    • Rest for the composer was an opportunity to write

Young pianist and conductor

Brahms House in Hamburg

On May 7, 1833, the son of Johannes was born in the family of the musician Johann Jacob Brahms, who played the horn and double bass at the Hamberg Philharmonic, and Christina Nissen. The first lessons in composition and harmony, at a very young age, the future composer received from his father, who also taught him to play the violin, piano and horn.

In order to record invented melodies, Johannes at the age of 6 invented his own method of recording music. From the age of 7, he began to study piano with F. Kossel, who three years later transferred Brahms to his teacher Eduard Marssen.

Brahms gave his first public concert at 10

The first concert in public Johannes gave at 10 years old, performing the sketch of Hertz. He took part in chamber concerts of the works of Mozart and Beethoven, earning his education. From the age of 14, he played the piano in taverns and dance halls, gave private music lessons, trying to help a family that regularly experienced financial difficulties.

Constant loads affected the young body. Brahms was invited to take a vacation in Winsen, where he directed a male choir and wrote a number of works for him. Upon returning to Hamburg, he gave several concerts, but, without receiving recognition, continued to play in taverns, giving piano lessons and composing popular tunes.

The origins of gypsy motifs in the music of the composer

In 1850, Brahms met with the Hungarian cellist Eduard Remenius, who introduced Johannes to gypsy songs. The influence of these melodies can be seen in many works of the composer. In the following years, Brahms wrote several pieces for the piano and, together with Edward, made several successful concert tours.

In 1853, they met the German violinist Joseph Joachim, who introduced them to the house of Franz Liszt in Weimar.

Brahms friend, violinist Joseph Joachim

Liszt warmly welcomed them, was impressed by Brahms' work and offered to join his group of composers. But Johannes refused, because he was not a fan of Liszt's music. Meanwhile, Joachim wrote a letter to Robert Schumann, in which he praised Brahms in every way. This letter was the best recommendation for Johannes.

Brahms, in 1853, meets Robert and Clara Schumann

Brahms, in the same 1853, personally gets acquainted with the Schumann family, subsequently actually becoming its member. Brahms had a special reverence for the high talent of the composer. Schumann and his wife, pianist Clara Schumann-Wieck, warmly received the young musician. Schumann's enthusiasm for the young composer knew no bounds; he wrote an article praising Johannes and organized the first edition of his compositions. In 1854, Brahms wrote a number of pieces for piano, including Variations on the theme of Schumann.

In his articles on Brahms, Schumann wrote: “Here is a musician who is called to give the highest and most perfect expression to the spirit of our time”

In 1859, Brahms gives a series of piano concerts

In the same year he was summoned to Düsseldorf when his older friend tried to commit suicide. The next few years he spent with the Schumann family, providing them with financial assistance. He again gave private piano lessons and performed several concert tours. Two concerts with singer Julia Stockhausen contributed to the formation of Brahms as a songwriter.

In 1859, together with Joachim, he gives in several German cities a piano concerto in D minor, which was written a year earlier. Only in Hamburg he was greeted positively, and then offered Johannes work as a conductor of a female choir for whom he writes Marienlieder. A year later, Brahms heard that most musicians welcomed the experimental theories of Liszt's “new German school”. This infuriated him. He criticized many of Liszt's musicians in the press and, having moved to Hamburg, buried himself in an essay, almost completely ceasing to perform in public.

Vienna becomes the home of Brahms

In 1863, Brahms emerged from his voluntary retreat and gave a concert in Vienna in order to bring his songs to the Austrian public. There he met with Richard Wagner. Although Brahms was critical of Wagner in the press, each of the composers was still able to enjoy the work of the other. Johannes received the position of conductor of the Choral Academy (Singakademie) in Vienna, which became home until the end of the composer's life. Experience with female choirs became the basis for writing a number of new choral works, the best for their time.

In 1863, Brahms emerged from his voluntary retreat and gave a concert in Vienna

Brahms mother died in 1865. In memory of her, Johannes writes the "German Requiem" (Ein Deutsches Requiem). This work, based on biblical texts, was first presented in Bremen on Good Friday 1869. After that, it sounded throughout Germany, swept through Europe and reached Russia. It was Requiem that became the work that put Brahms in the first row of 19th century composers.

Becoming, in the opinion of the public, Beethoven's successor, the composer had to comply with high honor. In the 1870s, he focused on string quartet works and symphonies. In 1973, Brahms wrote Variations on Haydn's Theme. After that, he felt that he was ready to begin the completion of Symphony No. 1 (C minor). The symphony premiered in 1876 and was very successful, but the composer revised it, changing one of the parts before publication.

Rest for the composer was an opportunity to write

After the first symphony, a number of major works followed, and the fame of Brahms' works spread far beyond Germany and Austria. Concert tours in Europe contributed significantly to this. Having enough funds to support his relatives, young musicians and scientists whose work he supported, Brahms leaves the post of conductor of the Society of Friends of Music and almost completely devotes himself to composition. In concert tours, he performed exclusively his works. And he spent the summer traveling in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

In concert tours, he performed exclusively his works

In 1880, the University of Breslau (now the University of Wroclaw in Poland) awarded Brahms an honorary degree. In appreciation, the composer composed a Solemn Overture based on student songs.

Every year the baggage of the composer's works grew. In 1891, as a result of meeting with the prominent clarinet player Richard Mülfeld, Brahms got the idea to write chamber music for clarinet. Implying Mülfeld, he composed The Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, the large Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, and two sonatas for clarinet and piano. These works are ideally suited in structure to the capabilities of the wind instrument, and also elegantly adapted to it.

The last of the published works, “Four Serious Songs” (Vier ernste Gesänge) becomes a point in his career, at the same time being its peak. While working on this work, Brahms was thinking about Clara Schumann, whom he had tender feelings for (at that time, her health was swaying). She died in May 1896. Soon, Brahms was forced to seek medical help.

In March 1897, at a concert in Vienna, the public was last able to see the author, and on April 3, Johannes Brahms died. The composer is buried next to Beethoven and Franz Schubert.

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