Brahms and His World

Author / Artist: 
Publication Date: 
November, 1990

Unlike some recent volumes on Brahms, which have served mainly to bring together miscellaneous papers read at conferences, this collection seeks to locate the composer more directly in the context of his personal, professional, and musical environment.

The volume consists of three parts. In Part I essays by six prominent scholars explore different aspects of Brahms's relationship to his world. The topics include time, memory, and concert life in Brahms's Vienna (Leon Botstein); Brahms's complex personality, studied by a leading psychoanalyst (Peter Ostwald, M.D.); Brahms and Clara Schumann (Nancy B. Reich); Brahms and the New German School (David Brodbeck); Brahms's pianos (George S. Bozarth and Stephen H. Brady); and Brahmsian influences on his contemporaries (Walter Frisch).

Part II presents commentary on Brahms's music culled from some of the most important critics of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most of this material has never appeared in English before. Included are excerpts from the earliest published survey of Brahms's works, written in 1862 by Adolf Schubring; reviews by the powerful Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick; analyses of the symphonies by Hermann Kretschmar; and an analysis of Joseph Joachim's Hungarian Concerto by Donald F. Tovey.

Part III offers substantial portions from memoirs about Brahms written by contemporaries who in themselves were leading musical figures. These excerpts, most translated into English for the first time, are taken from Hanslick and from the composers Alexander Zemlinsky, Karl Weigl, and Gustav Jenner, the latter being Brahms's only private pupil in composition.

An appendix provides a list of all known musical works dedicated to Brahms.

Brahms and His World should prove a valuable reader or source book for anyone interested in the composer.