Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Classic in form, romantic in content

In the autumn of his age, Johannes Brahms could often be seen out for walks in Vienna, well-dressed in a suit, hat and cigar in his mouth.

One of the promenades was the Prater, the town’s amusement park where you could ride a carousel, listen to wind orchestras and have a nice time at the pub with Sturm – the barely finished wine – and a hearty Schweinshaxe with juicy pork rind. Wine, women, song – of a kind that feels quite stale today. Brahms remained unmarried.

In the past, people talked about the music’s three big “B’s”: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Men who became white plaster busts and placed on the piano in every middle-class home, or even on a pedestal. Far away from a hamburger guy who played the piano at cheap harbor restaurants where sailors and prostitutes flocked. But he had the skills and the will to develop his artistic talent to the maximum.


More about Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) had high demands on himself and worked on his first symphony for 20 years before it was released. At that time he was already a well-known concert pianist who toured in Europe and also composed his formidable first piano concerto and the best-selling Hungarian dances.

From Hamburg he had moved to Düsseldorf – where he periodically lived with Robert and Clara Schumann – and then to Vienna where he had his big breakthrough with Ein deutsches Requiem for choir, soloists and orchestra.

There were four masterful symphonies in total, often composed in scenic and idyllic spa and holiday resorts such as Wiesbaden and Wörthersee. When he died of pancreatic cancer in 1897, he was a highly respected citizen, one of the greatest composers of all time and an honorary doctor of music. But just as lonely as when he came into the world.


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