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 …

Significant rests determine character

Significant Rests Determine Wedding or Funeral

 

Significant Rests determine Wedding or Funeral. Does a composer write rests into his music or not? If he does, the rests have a very specific function. They add lightness or breathing space into the music. We would expect a lack of rests in a funeral march due to its somber nature.  On the other hand, we would expect rests in a Bridal Chorus. On the basic level: A funeral is a sad and heavy occasion = few, if any rests.  A wedding is lighter and definitely joyful. We would expect quite a number of rests. Significant rests, and other factors determine the difference. One of the most tradition funeral marches was written by Chopin. While, the most traditional wedding march for the processional was written by Wagner.

Frédéric Chopin‘s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B minor, Op. 35, popularly known as the Funeral March, was completed in 1839 at Nohant, near Châteauroux in France. However, the third movement, whence comes the sonata’s common nickname, had been composed as early as 1837.  It was played at the graveside during Chopin’s own burial at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.[2]

significant rests - Chopin knew when and when not to use them
Everything Chopin notated in the music displays knowledge and genius.

Wagner wrote a bridal chorus in Lohengrin. It uses a similar opening rhythm to Chopin’s Funeral March.  The basic pattern of Chopin‘s motif is  (1) quarter note, (2) dotted eighth, followed by (3) a 16th note, and another (quarter note). However, the musical motif of Wagner‘s wedding march lightens the mood with two rests. They are the 8th and 16th note rests in the featured picture. I suggest the pianist observe these rules when playing for either occasion:

  • When performing the wedding march, release the damper pedal during the rests. This pedal adds heaviness to the music and the occasion. Rather, let the rests come through and punctuate the melody.
  • Conversely, when playing the funeral march plenty of damper pedal is just fine.

Yes, I am available as a pianist for all occasions.