Parents of the German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms, the composer was born on May 7th, 1833 in Hamburg, which was then a part of the German Confederation.
Wiki / Wikipedia
Brahms received training from Eduard Marxsen, a pianist and composer, who was the mentor of Cossel. This training took place between 1845 and 1848.
Marxsen had a close friendship with Beethoven and Schubert. He had a deep appreciation for the music of Mozart and Haydn, and he was a big fan of J. S. Bach.
Marxsen had a conversation with Brahms where he discussed the influence and impact of these composers. He also emphasized the importance of incorporating their style and tradition into his own compositions.
In 1847, Brahms had the opportunity to perform as a solo pianist in Hamburg. During this performance, he played a fantasy composed by Sigismund Thalberg. It was the first time this particular piece was presented to a general audience. In 1848, he had his first big piano performance. It was quite impressive because he played a Bach fugue, as well as pieces by Marxsen and other talented musicians of that time, like Jacob Rosenhain.
In April 1849, he presented a waltz fantasia that he had created himself, along with Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata. The performance received positive reviews from the press.
During this time, Brahms composed pieces for male vocal choir, chamber music, and the piano.
In 1849, the Hamburg company Cranz released piano arrangements and fancies under the pseudonym “G. W. Marks.” Brahms composed two pieces in 1851: the Scherzo Op. 4 and the song Heimkehr Op. 7 No.
However, Brahms later became very determined to get rid of all his early works. In fact, as late as 1880, he wrote to his friend Elise Giesemann and asked her to bring him his choir music manuscripts so that he could burn them.
The Brahms family was quite well-off, and the laws in Hamburg were very strict when it came to music in brothels or allowing minors inside. Some modern scholars don’t believe the claims that Brahms, as a poor teenager, played in bars and brothels because these claims are based on anecdotes and lack solid evidence.
Johannes Brahms bio & career
Brahms, the German composer, pianist, and conductor, resided during the Romantic era. He was born into a Lutheran family and spent a significant portion of his career in Vienna.
In the nineteenth century, Hans von Bülow, a conductor, used to call him one of the “Three Bs” of music, along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Brahms composed music for a variety of instruments and ensembles, including chorus, piano, organ, voice, chamber ensembles, and symphony orchestra.
As a talented pianist, he had the privilege of performing many of his own compositions for the first time. He worked together with well-known musicians during that time, like violinist Joseph Joachim and pianist Clara Schumann. The three of them were actually very good friends.
Nowadays, many of his compositions are frequently performed in contemporary concerts.
Many people who lived during Brahms’ time, as well as those who came after him, have seen him as both someone who followed traditional styles and someone who introduced new ideas.
He is influenced by the Classical masters, which is reflected in his creative methods and musical structure. These constructions have a lot of Romantic elements in them.
Some of the people who lived at the same time as him believed that his music was too academic, but other artists who came later, like Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar, recognized and appreciated his talent and the impact he made.
Brahms’ complex way of composing was seen as a great example and a source of inspiration for many composers in his time.
Brahms mainly used pianos made in Germany and Austria. Throughout his formative years, he played a piano that was made by Baumgarten & Heins of Hamburg.
In 1864, he decided to reach out to Clara Schumann and let her know about his fascination with Streicher instruments. In 1873, he received a Streicher piano, specifically the op. 6713 model. He kept it in his home until he passed away.
Clara received a letter from him that said, “You know, I always have a clear understanding of what I’m writing and the reasons behind my choice of words.” Brahms also had a Conrad Graf piano in his possession. Clara Schumann later gifted it to him, and he kept it until 1873. The Schumanns gave the piano as a wedding gift.
In the 1880s, Brahms frequently used a Bösendorfer piano for his public performances. In 1880, he gave a performance in Bonn using a Steinweg Nachfolgern piano. Then, in 1883, he played on a Blüthner piano.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Brahms used to play a Bechstein piano in several of his concerts. This includes his performances in Würzburg, Cologne, and Amsterdam in 1881.
Brahms’ parents were Johann Jakob Brahms and Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen. His brother, Fritz Friedrich, and his sister, Elizabeth, have the same parents as him.