Johannes Brahms

10 Famous works of Brahms (Hamburg, May 7, 1833-Vienna, April 3, 1897)

10 Famous works of Brahms

Born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 7, 1833, he was the grand master of symphonic style and sonatas in the second half of the 19th century. His father was a double bass player of the Hamburg Philharmonic Society and at the age of seven the young Brahms would begin to play the piano.

As a teenager, Brahms was already an accomplished musician, and he used his talent to earn money in the inns, brothels, and along the docks of the city to alleviate the financial conditions of his family.

He met Schumann in 1853 and they became very close friends. Schumann himself, who was already very famous at the time, called him a genius in a famous article, words that quickly made the young composer known.

Some historians say that she fell in love with Clara Schumann, after the death of his mentor Schumann, although it seems that she never returned that love.

In the early 1860s Schumann made his first visit to Vienna, and in 1863 he was appointed director of the Singaskademie; later he was appointed conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic for three seasons.

Brahms never married. After his failed attempt to make have a relationship with Clara Schumann, Brahms went on to have a small series of affairs. They included an affair with Agathe von Siebold in 1858, which he quit soon.

10 famous works of Brahms

1. Concerto for violin in D major Op. 77. 1878.

Premiered on January 1, 1879 and dedicated to his friend Joseph Joachim with the author conducting the Gewandhaus orchestra in Leipzig. It is a great masterpiece and one of the violin reference concerts. It is said that the soloist was jealous because of the protagonism that the author grants to the oboe during the second movement. The movements are:

I. Allegro non troppo (D major)

II. Adagio (F mayor)

III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace – Poco più presto (D major)

2. German requiem for soloists, choir and orchestra Op. 45. 1868.

Also known as “A German requiem”, it is a work about life and death based on the bible. Its premiere in 1868 made the composer thereafter considered one of the best composers in Europe. It is a work divided into seven parts with an approximate duration of one hour and 15 minutes.

3. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. 1862.

For some considered the 10th symphony of Beethoven, his first symphony is one of his most important works. He work on it around 14 years and it was premiered in 1876. In this work Brahms repeatedly cites the fifth symphony of Beethoven; some personalities of the time considered a plagiarism although he simply referred to it as a conscious act of tribute to the composer of Bonn.

This symphony has four movements:

  1. I.Un poco sostenuto – Allegro – meno Allegro
  2. II.Andante sostenuto
  3. III.Un poco Allegretto e grazioso
  4. IV.Adagio – Più Andante – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio – Più Allegro.

4. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. 1858.

Brahms composed only two concerts for this instrument. Both are masterpieces of this format and are usually performed in symphony halls. This work, composed in a truly difficult period for Brahms since his mentor Schumann had recently died, was released in 1859 and rejected by the public in a scandalous manner, with many whistles and some agitation. Five years later, it was again played by Clara Schumann, obtaining great success.

The concert is composed of the following movements:

  1. Maestoso
  2. Adagio
  3. Rondó: Allegro non troppo

5. Double concert in A minor for violin, cello and orchestra, Op. 102. 1887.

Released in 1887, it appears that Brahms’ last orchestral work was dedicated to the violinist Joseph Joachim and the cellist Robert Hausmann. With Joachim in recent times Brahmns had had a bad relationship because in the divorce between this violinist and his wife Brahms took side for his wife. In the manuscript the text is written, Joachim, frei aber einsam (Joachim, free but alone).

It is divided into three movements: Allegro, Andante and Vivace non troppo.

6. Quartet with Piano nº 2 in A minor, Op. 26. 1862.

It’s a mix between concert for piano and chamber music. Its premiere took place in Vienna with the members of the quartet Joseph Hellmesberger with Brahms playing the piano part. In life of the composer, of the two quartets with piano, it seems that this was more successful, although in the twentieth century his first quartet has been more successful. This work has a long duration of approximately 50 minutes.

  1. Allegro non troppo
  2. Poco adagio
  3. Scherzo: poco allegro
  4. Allegro, alla breve

7. Quintet with Clarinet in B minor, Op. 115. 1891.

It is one of the best-known works of Brahms and most representative of the composer’s chamber music. Brahms dedicated it to the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld and was first performed by him and the Joachim quartet. Its movements are:

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Andantino
  4. Con moto

8. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5. 1853.

It is a monumental work of the composer’s piano repertoire Brahms written in gratitude to the Contesa Ida von Hohenthal, for having hired his brother to give piano lessons to their children. It lasts about 40 minutes and is divided into five movements.

I. Allegro maestoso

II. Andante espressivo.

III. Scherzo.

IV. Intermezzo.

V. Finale

9. Sonata for cello No. 2 in F major, Op. 99. 1886.

Brahms composed two sonatas for violoncello and piano, which today are considered fundamental works in the chamber music repertoire. It was dedicated to Robert Hausmann, who had premiered his first sonata for chelo 20 years earlier and who would later premiere alongside Joachim his double concert.

I. Allegro vivace

II. Adagio affettuoso

III. Allegro passionato

IV. Allegro molto

10. Sonata for clarinet or viola No. 2, in E flat major, op. 120. 1894.

The two sonatas in this opus were the last works that Brahms wrote before he died. Today they are considered the two most important works of clarinet in chamber music. Brahms himself made certain changes in the score so that it could be interpreted by the viola. It consists of the following movements

  1. Allegro amabile.
  2. Allegro appassionato.
  3. Andante con moto, allegro.

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