Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms – His Life was Marked by Extremes

Johannes Brahms – His Life was Marked by Extremes. This is especially true with the ladies. He had a difficult time striking a happy medium. After Schubert, Brahms has become my favorite composer.  His music has such a soul searching quality. I feel musically he was always searching for ideal love. Brahms was also charitable. To help out his family, he gave music lessons. He also played the piano in taverns, bordellos and local dance halls in his early teens. He never married. I quote The Classical Music Experience by Julius H. Jacobson. In his chapter about Brahms:”That (taverns) was my first impression of women…..And you expect me to honor them as you do?” The constant rough work with irregular hours affected his health. However, his attitude toward Robert and his wife, Clara Schumann, was totally different.

Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Be-Br/Brahms-Johannes.html#ixzz5NGRMCrcP
Clara Schumann 1878.jpg
Clara Schumann and Brahms become best friends after her husband,composer Robert Schumann, passed away.

Brahms first visited the couple in Düsseldorf on 30 September 1853. Both welcomed him warmly. Robert was highly enthusiastic about the young man’s compositions.  He went so far as to call the coming savior of German music! 

However, Robert Schumann was becoming more and more unbalanced. He  attempted suicide and was hospitalized. Brahms often visited Schumann in the hospital, . His friends, Joseph Joachim and Albert Dietrich, came with him. Brahms then lived with Clara and the children in the Schumann house. He became was helplessly in love with Clara. He wrote in frustration during 1855: “I can do nothing but think of you… What have you done to me? Can’t you remove the spell you have cast over me?”  All accounts point to them as having had a strictly Platonic relationship.

How Johannes Brahms Paralleled Scott Joplin in America

Scott Joplin Archives – DSO Works

Scott Joplin, like Brahms, played bordellos and taverns for income. He was also hailed by Europeans as the first great, original, legit, American composer. Kaiser Wilhelm of Austria is quoted as saying, at last someone has produced authentic, original American music. The King loved ragtime! Joplin officiated the American style of fun and syncopation. In this way he was not only a savior, but also, the father of American music. Enjoy my rendition of Scott Joplin’s Entertainer.

Conclusion: It’s fun to make comparisons. Who would ever think to compare Johannes Brahms with Scott Joplin? And yes, I have one or two openings for piano students in Sarasota.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist

Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist, not Richard Wagner

Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist, not Richard Wagner. I am in awe of Johannes Brahms. I have been religiously practicing the six numbers of his opus 118. I hope to eventually make a post playing all six. The key to the romantic era is fusion of  melody with counterpoint. Counterpoint is so rare nowadays that I will define it.

Image result for Wiki Commons picture of composer Richard Wagner

Ludwig II (GermanLudwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm; English: Louis Otto Frederick William; 25 August 1845 – 13 June 1886)[1] was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death in 1886. He stands next to Richard Wagner who is seated at the piano. 

Why Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist Peaked the Romantic Era, not  Richard Wagner

Brahms is the master. Wagner is dramatic, exciting and on a grand scale. Brahms, however,  is the scholarly master of counterpoint. The romantic era revived counterpoint. One era contrasts another. Melody with accompaniment mostly characterized the rococo period and the classical. To be different, the romantics revived counterpoint as an art form. My opinion is that Brahms is better at counterpoint that Wagner. The collection of Opus 118 is filled with masterpieces of this genre. No. 4 is mostly a continuous “round.” The right hand plays one bar of music. In the next measure the left hand plays the same.  In that same measure,  the right plays a new aspect of the melody. In the next measure, the left hand plays the same… I think that Tal-Haim Samnon in the youtube video has an excellent approach.

Conclusion: Melody and counterpoint fused together are hallmarks of the Romantic era. In my opinion, Brahms is its outstanding representative.

Brahms – intermezzo op. 118 no. 4 – Samnon – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIM-2hq3f9E

Apr 1, 2011 – Uploaded by Tal-Haim Samnon

Brahms– intermezzo op118 no. 4 in f minor- Samnon. Tal-Haim Samnon was born in Tel Aviv in …

Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist

Low Living High Thinking Characterizes Johannes Brahms

Low Living High Thinking Johannes Brahms. I think the featured picture of Brahms portrays his humility and kindness. Johannes Brahms (* 7 May 1833 in Hamburg , † 3. April 1897 in Vienna ) was a German composer , pianist and conductor whose compositions mainly of high romance from the Romantic Era of classical music. In the Romantic period, music became more expressive and emotional, expanding to encompass literary, artistic, and philosophical themes. Famous composers from the second half of the century include Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner. Brahms is one of the most important composers of the second half of the 19th century. He was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1833. His masterful of use of counterpoint with beautiful melody are unequaled.

I’ve been practicing the six numbers of opus 118. Very seldom does he change a time signature in any one of these numbers.  However, like Chopin, he often changes meter within the context of the music. Thus both Brahms and Chopin would write in 3/4. But the feeling of the beats are 2/4 time. Then, the beat flows back to the designated 3/4 time.

Low Living High Thinking  is How the Giant Named Johannes Brahms Grew Up

 

Low living high thinking, This was the birthplace of Johannes Brahms.
Johannes Brahms grew up in the first floor dwelling to the left of the door. A great man grew up in a small apartment tenement.

Young Brahms became the the conductor of a Choral Society in Detmold. He was also Court Pianist and Teacher of the royal family. The post came with free rooms and living expenses.  He resided at the Hotel Stadt Frankfort. It was located exactly opposite the castle where he worked. He brought about quite a change in his lifestyle by his own efforts! Also, he could talk about almost any subject. One of his sayings was: : “Whoever wishes to play well must not only practice a great deal, but read many books.” My source is Story-Lives of Master Musicians by Harriette Brower, 1922 Frederick A. Stokes Company, page 306.  Now you can see why I chose the featured library picture. And yes, a poor person with character, determination and knowledge can make a tremendous success out of life.

 

 

Nietzsche Loved Carmen by Bizet Over Wagner

Nietzsche Loved Carmen by Bizet Over Wagner. Alfred Einstein, in his Music in the Romantic Era, gives  the following quote by Nietzsche about Bizet’s Carmen: “It is rich. It is precise. It builds, organizes, gets finished: therein it establishes a contrast to the excrescence in music, the “infinite melody.” Nietzsche stated that Bizet was in fact refreshing and  southern music, that allows a person to take leave of the damp North (referring to Wagner’ s music). He further declared that Bizet, who he loved, was the antithesis of Wagner. Whereas Bizet in Carmen used a closed form, Wagner went on and on with his motifs, seemingly forever. I personally find this amusing because so many have bound Nietzsche’s philosophy with Wagner’s music which often presents musical motifs on a seemingly endless scale. .

Publicity shots for the Carmen revival at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in January 1915, with Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar. Caruso is centre in the upper row, Farrar top left and bottom right.

MY INDIRECT CONNECTION WITH CARUSO THROUGH RUBINOFF

I had the honor of arranging and accompanying”David Rubinoff and His Violin”.  He told me the following story involving the great tenor, Caruso (picture above) and Mme. Schumann-Heink, “the greatest contra-alto singer”, possibly of all time: Victor Herbert brought Rubinoff and his family to America in 1911. Herbert heard Rubinoff playing a recital at the Warsaw Conservatory, then  under the leadership of Paderewski. He said to Rubinoff, who was 13 years of age at the time, “son, you belong to America.” Rubinoff told me the story of how Victor Herbert, then conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, had Sunday soirees at his residence in Pittsburgh.  Caruso and Mme. Schumann-Heink were among the famous regular guests. They would sing opera duets while Herbert played the cello and Rubinoff played the violin. They would often sing and play selections from Carmen. Herbert, by the way, loved to both compose and orchestrate his own music while standing up byusing a tall dresser that he used for writing.

JOHANNES BRAHMS LOVED CARMEN

In conclusion, I believe that George Bizet knew that he had a super hit on his hands with Carmen. Even the great Johannes Brahms told his publisher, Simrock in June of 1882, to please send him the score to Carmen. He declared he loved it more than any other of the works in Simrock’s catalogue, including, wrote Brahms, his own. Unfortunately, as happens with so many composers, Bizet never lived to see its  ultimate triumph. He died of illness three months after its opening at age 36.  May I suggest getting a recording of the great piano virtuoso, V. Horowitz playing it. He made an amazing arrangement of hit songs from the score.