Brahms: A German Requiem
The German Requiem is Brahms's largest work, written for orchestra, chorus and two soloists. It made Brahms an international name, and the scope and technique of the composition brought him not only a new audience but also comparison with Bach and Beethoven. Although it fell out of favour for much of the earlier part of the twentieth century, it has found new critical support as an original and progressive work and there are many current recordings. This detailed study examines its history (especially its deep links to the past) and controversial reception, analyses its textual and musical structure, and discusses performing traditions from Brahms's time to the present, including nine recorded performances made over the last fifty years.
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Brahms and the German Spirit
The music of Johannes Brahms is deeply coloured, Daniel Beller-McKenna shows, by nineteenth-century German nationalism and by Lutheran religion. Focusing on the composer's choral works, the author offers new insight on the cultural grounding for Brahms's music. Music historians have been reluctant to address Brahm's Germanness, wary perhaps of fascist implications. Beller-McKenna counters this tendency; by giving an account of the intertwining of nationalism, politics, and religion that underlies major works, he restores Brahms to his place in nineteenth-century German culture. The author explores Brahms's interest in the folk element in old church music; the intense national pride expressed in works such as the Triumphlied; the ways Luther's Bible and Lutheranism are reflected in Brahms's music; and the composer's ideas about nation building. The final chapter looks at Brahms's nationalistic image as employed by the National Socialists, 1933-1945, and as witnessed earlier in the century (including the complication of rumours that Brahms was Jewish). In comparison to the overtly nationalist element in Wagner's music, the German elements in Brahms's style have been easy to overlook.
This nuanced study uncovers those nationalistic elements, enriching our understanding both of Brahms's art and of German culture.
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Brahms: Clarinet Quintet
On its first appearance in 1891, Brahms' Clarinet Quintet was immediately recognised as a remarkable achievement, and a century later it still has the power to claim the hearts and minds of players and audiences alike. Widely regarded as Brahms' supreme achievement in the field of chamber music, the Clarinet Quintet is here placed in the context of the history of the clarinet and its repertory, and of Brahms' own compositions before 1891. The influence of the Meiningen clarinet virtuoso Richard Muhlfeld unleashed a new vein of creativity in Brahms, and this forms a basis for discussion, together with questions of performance practice (in relation to both clarinet and string quartet) and the legacy of Brahms' clarinet music. These chapters are complemented by a comprehensive analysis of the music.
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The Songs of Johannes Brahms
In this highly anticipated book, Eric Sams examines each of Johannes Brahms's 213 songs, translates the texts into English, and provides original commentary on points of musicology and literary detail. Sams here reveals for the first time the full extent of the poetry, fantasy, and humour of the composer's work. After an introduction to Brahms as a song-writer and to his use of motifs, the book offers a complete song-by-song analysis and will serve as an invaluable companion for students, performers, and listeners alike. Sams demonstrates how Brahms built a verbal expressiveness from his unsurpassed devotion to musicianship and musicology. Songs were among Brahms's first and last works, and much of his music is associated with words, whether overt texts or covert allusions. Essential to the composer's method of song-writing was a harmony between musical form and poetic text. Sams underscores the use of motifs at the core of Brahms's song-music. He argues that it is not so much with words that Brahms sings to us, but with the very music itself. Brahms became the innovator of an all-pervasive new language in which musical form became a medium for poetic dialogue.
Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall
Johannes Brahms was a consummate professional musician, a successful pianist, conductor, music director, editor and composer. Yet he also faithfully championed the world of private music-making, creating many works and arrangements for enjoyment in the home by amateurs. This collection explores Brahms' public and private musical identities from various angles: the original works he wrote with amateurs in mind; his approach to creating piano arrangements of not only his own, but also other composers' works; his relationships with his arrangers; the deeper symbolism and lasting legacy of private music-making in his day; and a hitherto unpublished memoir which evokes his Viennese social world. Using Brahms as their focus point, the contributors trace the overlapping worlds of public and private music-making in the nineteenth century, discussing the boundaries between the composer's professional identity and his lifelong engagement with amateur music-making.
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Brahms Beyond Mastery
In 1853 Robert Schumann identified fully-formed compositional mastery in the young Brahms, who nevertheless in the years following embarked on a period of intensive further study, producing, among other works, the neo-baroque Sarabande and Gavotte. These dances have not been properly recognized as constituting a distinct Brahms work before now, but manuscript evidence and their performance history indicate that Brahms and his friends thought of them as such in the mid-1850s, when they became the first music of his performed publicly in Gdansk, Vienna, Budapest and London. He later suppressed the dances, using them instead as a thematic quarry for three chamber music masterpieces, from different stages in his life and in distinctly different ways: the Second String Sextet, the First String Quintet and the Clarinet Quintet. This book gives an account of the compositional and performance history, stylistic features and re-uses of the dances, setting these in the wider context of Brahms's developing creative concerns and trajectory.
It constitutes therefore a study of a 'lost' work, of how a fully-formed master opens himself to 'the in-flowing from afar' (in Martin Heidegger's terms), and of the transformative reach and concomitant expressive richness of Brahms's creative thought.
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Though Brahms' symphonies are often treated somewhat like medicine, as something 'good for you', but otherwise lacking in purely sensual pleasure, David Hurwitz takes the reader beyond the jargon and pedantry and unlocks the mystery (and the joy) contained within Brahms' symphonies. In short, Brahms was a musician's musician, in some respects and 'academic' (which is not to say 'pedantic') composer, and so it's practically impossible for professional scholars and musicians to approach his music without wanting to demonstrate at some point that they are as smart as Brahms, and uniquely able to unravel the technical intricacies of his larger works. For the general reader, this obviously represents a problem; indeed, it's not exactly a joy for the music professional either. Indeed, there is a sense in which Brahms' own seriousness of purpose is mistaken for a uniform seriousness of expression, with the result that his music is often treated somewhat like medicine, as something 'good for you', but otherwise lacking in purely sensual pleasure.
Brahms' well-known struggles with orchestration compound this impression, but since no less an authority than Ravel praised the orchestration of the Second Symphony, we know that this fact is, at best, a generalization only partially true. "Magnum Opus" is a series for anyone seeking a greater familiarity with the cornerstones of Western Classical Music - operatic, choral and symphonic. Always passionate, down-to-earth, and authoritative on the works and their creators, "Magnum Opus" is an indispensable resource for anyone's musical library and the perfect gift for the music-lover in your life.
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Brahms and His World
Since its first publication in 1990, Brahms and His World has become a key text for listeners, performers, and scholars interested in the life, work, and times of one of the nineteenth century's most celebrated composers. In this substantially revised and enlarged edition, the editors remain close to the vision behind the original book while updating its contents to reflect new perspectives on Brahms that have developed over the past two decades. To this end, the original essays by leading experts are retained and revised, and supplemented by contributions from a new generation of Brahms scholars. Together, they consider such topics as Brahms's relationship with Clara and Robert Schumann, his musical interactions with the "New German School" of Wagner and Liszt, his influence upon Arnold Schoenberg and other young composers, his approach to performing his own music, and his productive interactions with visual artists.
The essays are complemented by a new selection of criticism and analyses of Brahms's works published by the composer's contemporaries, documenting the ways in which Brahms's music was understood by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century audiences in Europe and North America. A new selection of memoirs by Brahms's friends, students, and early admirers provides intimate glimpses into the composer's working methods and personality. And a catalog of the music, literature, and visual arts dedicated to Brahms documents the breadth of influence exerted by the composer upon his contemporaries.
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The Cambridge Companion to Brahms
This Companion gives a comprehensive view of the German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-97). Twelve specially-commissioned chapters by leading scholars and musicians provide systematic coverage of the composer's life and works. Their essays represent recent research and reflect changing attitudes towards a composer whose public image has long been out-of-date. The first part of the book contains three chapters on Brahms's early life in Hamburg and on the middle and later years in Vienna. The central section considers the musical works in all genres, while the last part of the book offers personal accounts and responses from a conductor (Roger Norrington), a composer (Hugh Wood), and an editor of Brahms's original manuscripts (Robert Pascall). The volume as a whole is an important addition to Brahms scholarship and provides indispensable information for all students and enthusiasts of Brahms's music.
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Brahms Among Friends
Brahms Among Friends identifies patterns of listening, performance, and composition among close friends of Johannes Brahms and explores how those patterns informed the creation and reception of his music in the intimate genres of song, sonata, trio, and piano miniature. Among the tangled threads of counterpoint and circumstance that bound Brahms to his acquaintances was the technique of allusive musical borrowing, whereby a brief passage from a familiar work was drawn into the fabric of a new composition. For the specific listeners whose habits of mind and musicianship he knew best, allusive borrowings could become rhetorically charged gestures, persuasively revising the meanings his music conveyed and the interpretive strategies it invited. Primary documents, original manuscripts, music-analytic comparison, and kinesthetic parameters experienced in the act of performance all work in tandem to support ten case studies in the interplay between Brahms's small-scale works and the women and men who encountered them before publication.
Central characters include violinist Joseph Joachim, singers Amalie Joachim, Julius Stockhausen, and Agathe von Siebold, composers Heinrich and Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, and pianists Emma Engelmann and Clara Schumann. For these musicians and for the composer himself, Brahms's allusive music served a broad variety of emotional needs and interpersonal ends. Yet across diverse repertoire and interdisciplinary correlates ranging from ethnography to psychoanalysis, each case study furthers a single, underlying aim: Yet across diverse repertoire and interdisciplinary correlates ranging from ethnography to psychoanalysis, each case study furthers a single, underlying aim: to reconstruct the mutually dependent perspectives of historically situated agents and restore forgotten features of their communicative landscapes as bases for both musical and historical scrutiny.
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