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• Another well-known composer of art song
• German composer, one of the major
composers of the 19th century, whose
works combine the best of the classical and
romantic schools.
•Brahms was born in Hamburg on May 7,
•After studying the violin and cello with his
father, a double bass player in the city
theater, Brahms mastered the piano and
began to compose under the guidance of the
German music teacher Eduard Marxsen
•His first major work to be publicly presented
was the Piano Concerto no. 1 in D Minor,
which he performed in Leipzig in 1859.
The composition was not well
received, however, because it
lacked the showiness and the
virtuoso passages then in vogue.
The composer went to Vienna in
1863 and became director of the
Singakademie (Choral Academy)
but left the post a year later.
In 1868 Brahms won fame throughout
Europe following the performance of his
German Requiem, in which he departed
from Catholic tradition by using a German
rather than a Latin text. The piece, cast in
seven divisions, expresses his sorrow at the
death of his mother and of Schumann.
Brahms settled in Vienna in 1871, accepting
the directorship of the Gesellschaft der
Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music).
•Until 1873 Brahms had written chiefly for the
piano, the instrument he knew best
His masterpieces include the grandiloquent
Symphony no. 1 in C Minor (1876); the
gentler, more mellifluous Symphony no. 2 in D
Major (1877); the Academic Festival Overture
(1880), incorporating German student songs;
the somber Tragic Overture (1881); the poetic
Symphony no. 3 in F Major (1883); and the
Symphony no. 4 in E Minor (1885), with its
brilliant and emotionally overwhelming finale.
Unfortunately, little is known of
Brahms's methods of work. A merciless
self-critic, he burned all that he wrote
before the age of 19 as well as some
sketches of later masterpieces. It is
known that he frequently reworked
pieces over a period of 10 to 20 years,
and before achieving the final form he
often transcribed them for several
different combinations of instruments.
Brahms wrote in every medium except
opera. His numerous other important works
include Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny,
1871), a musical setting of a poem by the
German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, scored for
chorus and orchestra; the Violin Concerto in
D Major (1878), a classic in the violin
repertoire; 3 string quartets; 5 trios; a
clarinet quintet; numerous other chamber
works for various combinations of
instruments; and more than 150 songs.
He was influenced by Schubert in
composing songs. In his song, you will
hear the simple tunes of German Folk
songs. His art song are as intimate as a
personal message and very human.
Many of his song are in strophic form.
Brahms died on April 13, 1897, in Vienna.