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Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist who wrote symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, and choral compositions.
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Born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 7, 1833, Brahms was the great master of symphonic and sonata style in the second half of the 19th century. He can be viewed as the protagonist of the Classical tradition of Joseph Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
It is not hard to compose, but what is fabulously hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table.
Widely considered one the 19th century's greatest composers and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic era, Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833, in Hamburg, Germany.
He was the second of Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen and Johann Jakob Brahms' three children. Music was introduced to his life at an early age. His father was a double bassist in the Hamburg Philharmonic Society, and the young Brahms began playing piano at the age of seven.
By the time he was a teenager, Brahms was already an accomplished musician, and he used his talent to earn money at local inns, in brothels and along the city's docks to ease his family's often tight financial conditions.
In 1853 Brahms was introduced to the renowned German composer and music critic Robert Schumann. The two men quickly grew close, with Schumann seeing in his younger friend great hope for the future of music. He dubbed Brahms a genius and praised the "young eagle" publicly in a famous article. The kind words quickly made the young composer a known entity in the music world.
But this music world was also at a crossroads. Modernist composers like Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, the leading faces of the "New German School" rebuked the more traditional sounds of Schumann. Theirs was a sound predicated on organic structure and harmonic freedom, drawing from literature for its inspiration.
In 1854 Schumann fell ill. In a sign of his close friendship with his mentor and his family, Brahms assisted Schumann's wife, Clara, with the management of her household affairs. Music historians believe that Brahms soon fell in love with Clara, though she doesn't seem to have reciprocated his admiration. Even after Schumann's death in 1856, the two remained solely friends.
Over the next several years, Brahms held several different posts, including conductor of a women's choir in Hamburg, which he was appointed to in 1859. He also continued to write his own music. His output included "String Sextet in B-flat Major" and "Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor."
In the early 1860s Brahms made his first visit to Vienna, and in 1863 he was named director of the Singakademie, a choral group, where he concentrated on historical and modern a cappella works.
Brahms, for the most part, enjoyed steady success in Vienna. By the early 1870s he was principal conductor of the Society of Friends of Music. He also directed the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for three seasons.
His own work continued as well. In 1868, following the death of his mother, he finished "A German Requiem," a composition based on Biblical texts and often cited as one of the most important pieces of choral music created in the 19th century.
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