Thinking through Brahm's Entanglements
Perhaps more than any other composer, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) wrote work entangled with the musical past represented by his most influential predecessors
This FLEFF roundtable and chamber concert on April 1 honors the 125th anniversary of Brahm’s death.
A piano virtuoso, he wrote twenty-four chamber pieces for trios, string quartets, quintets, and duets for piano and violin., some of the most elegiac and revered of the 19th century.
From the moment Robert Schumann published his famous 1853 review, “Neue Bahnen” (New Paths) anointing the twenty-year-old Brahms the long-awaited successor to Ludwig van Beethoven, Brahms became inextricably linked to the great composers who came before him.
Virtually every major Brahms composition was consciously modeled on the music of Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Schumann or someone else. These references exposed his encyclopedic knowledge of music history.
These works enmeshed classical form’s emphasis on structure with romanticism’s uncontrolled creative self-expression and breaking down barriers, often in conflict. German Romanticism engaged subjectivity, emotions, vastness, and the sublime.
Brahms’ complicated personal history with composer Robert Schumann deeply impacted his friendship with Schumann’s widow, Clara, a pianist and composer. The memory of Robert Schumann haunted his decades-long complexly ambiguous relationship with Clara Schumann.
FLEFF: A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT