Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Brahms Beauty

Johannes Brahms, the great German Romantic composer, is one of my favorite composers. While he didn't compose many symphonies [he composed 4] they were all, truly great masterpieces. He struggled and struggled for years composing his first symphony as he always thought he would be compared to the towering figure, Beethoven and his masterpiece symphonies. When he finally completed it, it was worth the wait, as it was indeed compared favorably to Beethoven's ninth symphony. Some scholars have even admiringly called it Beethoven's 10th.

Brahms, was a great composer but may not have been the most personable gentleman. I remember a story my daughter's piano teacher told about Brahms irascible personality. She said one of Brahms admiring students, worked very hard on a composition, using Brahms techniques that he taught him. He finally got the nerve to show Brahms the composition to see what he thought. Brahms glanced at a couple of pages, and said with a smirk: "Hmmm, nice paper."

While Brahms may not have been the most pleasant of men, his music was indeed very pleasant. You always get a huge beautiful sound, with beautiful melodies. Unlike the very small orchestras that are one of the staples of the Baroque era, the huge orchestras used in Romantic era music lend well to Brahms compositions and its big beautiful sound.

Here is Brahms beautiful 2nd symphony. I usually pick out one or two movements when I am showing a video of a symphony, but I thought you might want to get the feel of the entire symphony as if you were actually in the symphony hall. Brahms Symphony #2 is in D Major with movement 1:Allegro non troppo, 2. Adagio non troppo, 3. Allegretto grazioso, 4. Allegro con spirito

I have two videos of the same symphony that you can choose to play.  The first has the video of a live symphony concert that I thought you would like to see. But this is an old video and you must turn up the sound almost all the way to enjoy it.  The second one has no video, but is a much better sound quality. It is a recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of the late Eugene Ormandy.   This is the version I like get to choose.

Brahms: Symphony # 2 in D Major: [please turn up the volume to enjoy]

Brahms: Symphony #2 in D Major: [no video]

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