Johannes Brahms was over 40 years old when he published his first symphony. Asked by his publisher why its composition was taking so long, Brahms responded by describing the difficulty of composing music in the “shadow of that giant” – a direct allusion to Beethoven. Indeed, of all the composers of the 19th century, none would invite comparison to “the maestro” as much as Johannes Brahms. Later dubbed the “Keeper of the Classical Flame,” this ambitious composer grew up in Hamburg and may have first worked as a teenage pianist in the brothels of an infamous red-light district. A meeting with Robert and Clara Schumann in 1853 would change his life and accelerate his rise to greatness. Often described as a “conservative” composer who eschewed newer compositional techniques, a close investigation of Brahms’ music reveals that such designations miss the mark. During the program, Professor Gil Harel will delve into the remarkable life and music of this German composer, and in doing so, challenge traditional perceptions associated with his legacy.
Johannes Brahms: A Biography, by Jan Swafford
Johannes Brahms: Life and Letters, by Styra Avins
The Schumanns and Johannes Brahms: The Memoirs of Eugenie Schumann, Daughter to Robert and Clara, by Eugenie Schumann