Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Romantic, Melodic Brahms

Tonight once again is symphony night for the fetching Mrs. B and I.  This weekend's concert concludes the All Brahms month at Jones Hall.  Johannes Brahms was a German composer and virtuoso pianist in the 2nd half of the 19th century, during the Romantic era of music.  He lived most of his life in Vienna, Austria.

What is great about the Houston Symphony concerts at Jones Hall are these lectures that are given about 45 minutes before the concert called "preludes." Mrs. Sheralyn B and I really love to go early so we can hear great information about the concert [and or composers] we are about to hear at these "preludes."  At the last concert we attended we were honored to hear a professor from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music who talked about the interesting life of Johannes Brahms   We learned at this lecture that one of the composers Brahms admired most was Robert Schumann and it was at Schumann's house [before Robert and Clara Schumann] where a young Brahms first displayed his great talent as a pianist. Robert Schumann was so enthralled by the brilliance of this pianist, he became almost like his agent.  Schumann told everyone in the music world about this young brilliant pianist who he thought would become the next Mozart/Beethoven. Robert Schumann became like a father figure to Brahms, but sadly the relationship didn't last long, as Robert Schumann, four months after first meeting Brahms, became very depressed and attempted suicide.  He voluntarily had himself admitted to a mental institution for years. With Robert Schumann away from Brahms, Robert's Schumann's wife Clara filled the void in helping Brahms start what was to become a brilliant career of composing and piano virtuosity.

Brahms was a vibrant and prolific composer who often utilized the classical forms (symphony, concerto, and sonata) in his compositions. Because Brahms was so admiringly compared to Beethoven by the critics of the day, he agonized for an amazing 21 years before completing his first symphony.  Brahms knew it would be compared to Beethoven's symphonies and in his mind he wasn't sure he could do it justice.  But it was worth the wait.  What a magnificent symphony that employed many traits of Beethoven's final symphony. This was so loved by many, it was not only compared favorably to Beethoven's epic 9th symphony, it was  often referred to as Beethoven's 10th symphony.  That is true even to this day.  With the first symphony out of the way, and the success it had, Brahms much more easily was able to compose three other brilliant symphonies.  All four of Brahms symphonies are great masterpieces.

Tonight we will be enjoying Brahms 2nd Symphony.  The second is a soothing, melodic symphony that is one of my favorites.   Opening the program for tonight will be Brahms 2nd piano concerto. Sheralyn and I always love great piano concertos as this one is, so we are really looking forward to tonight's concert.

As I have said often on the Tales classical weekends, whatever the fetching Mrs B and I enjoy on our symphony nights will be shared [a small portion at least] with the readers of the Tales.  For your enjoyment I have chosen the beautiful slow movements of both the concerto and the symphony that we will hear tonight: the andante movement of Brahms Piano Concerto #2, and the Adagio Non Troppo movement of Brahms symphony #2.  The two movements I have chosen exemplify the romantic, melodic Johannes Brahms.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy!

Brahms Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major, movement 3, Andante:

Brahms Symphony #2 in D Major, Movement 2, Adagio Non Troppo:

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