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Johannes Brahms

May 7, 1833 - April 3, 1897
born in Germany, composed during the Romantic period
The stature of Johannes Brahms among classical composers is well illustrated by his inclusion among the "Three Bs" triumvirate of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Of all the major composers of the late Romantic era, Brahms was the one most attached to the Classical ideal as manifested in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and especially Beethoven; indeed, Hans von Bülow once characterized Brahms' Symphony No. 1 (1855-1876) as "Beethoven's Tenth." As a youth, Brahms was championed by Robert Schumann as music's greatest hope for the future; as a mature composer, Brahms became for conservative musical journalists the most potent symbol of musical tradition, a stalwart against the "degeneration" represented by the music of Wagner and his school. Brahms' symphonies, choral and vocal works, chamber music, and piano pieces are imbued with strong emotional feeling, yet take shape according to a thoroughly considered structural plan.

The son of a double bassist in the Hamburg Philharmonic Society, Brahms demonstrated great promise from the beginning. He began his musical career as a pianist, contributing to the family coffers as a teenager by playing in restaurants, taverns, and even brothels. Though by his early twenties he enjoyed associations with luminaries like violinists Eduard Reményi and Joseph Joachim, the friend and mentor who was most instrumental in advancing his career was Schumann, who all but adopted him and became his most ardent partisan, and their esteem was mutual. Following Schumann's death in 1856, Brahms became the closest confidant and lifelong friend of the composer's widow, pianist and composer Clara Wieck Schumann. After a life of spectacular musical triumphs and failed loves (the composer was involved in several romantic entanglements but never wed), Brahms died of liver cancer on April 3, 1897.

In every genre in which he composed, Brahms produced works that have become staples of the repertory. His most ambitious work, the German Requiem (1863-1867), is the composer's singular reinterpretation of an age-old form. The four symphonies -- lushly scored, grand in scope, and deeply expressive -- are cornerstones of the symphonic literature. Brahms' concertos are, similarly, in a monumental, quasi-symphonic vein: the two piano concertos (1856-1859 and 1881) and the Violin Concerto (1878) call for soloists with both considerable technical skill and stamina. His chamber music is among the most sophisticated and exquisitely crafted of the Romantic era; for but a single example, his works that incorporate the clarinet (e.g., the Trio in A minor, Op. 114 and the two Sonatas, Op. 120), an instrument largely overlooked by his contemporaries, remain unsurpassed. Though the piano sonata never held for Brahms the same appeal it had for Beethoven (Brahms wrote three to Beethoven's 32), he produced a voluminous body of music for the piano. He showed a particular affinity for variations -- notably, on themes of Schumann (1854), Handel (1861), and Paganini (1862-1863) -- and likewise produced a passel of national dances and character pieces such as ballades, intermezzi, and rhapsodies. Collectively, these constitute one of the essential bodies of work in the realm of nineteenth century keyboard music. ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works, Disc 3

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Track List: Anne Sofie Von Otter - Johannes Brahms Lieder

Title: Zigeunerlieder (8), For Voice & Piano (arranged From Op. 103)
Title: Songs (6) for voice & piano, Op. 97
Title: Romances and songs (5) for voice(s) & piano, Op. 84
Title: Songs (4) for voice & piano, Op. 43
Title: Songs (8) For Voice & Piano, Op. 57
Title: Songs (5) for voice & piano, Op. 72
Title: Songs (4) for voice & piano, Op. 43
Title: Songs (9) For Voice & Piano, Op. 63
Title: Songs (9) for voice & piano, Op. 32
Title: Songs (8) For Voice & Piano, Op. 57
Title: Songs (9) For Voice & Piano, Op. 63
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 107
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 106
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 47
Title: Songs (5) For Voice & Piano, Op. 49
Title: Songs (2) For Alto, Viola & Piano, Op. 91
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Track List: Brahms - Liebeslieder-Walzer Op. 52 & Op. 65 / E. Mathis, Fassbaender, Schreier, Fischer-Dieskau, K. Engel, Sawallisch

Title: Liebeslieder Waltzes (18) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 52
Title: Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes (15) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 65
Title: Quartets (3) For Mixed Voices & Piano, Op. 64
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Track List: Brahms On Brass

Title: Waltzes (16) For Piano, 4 Hands (Or Piano), Op. 39
Title: Ballades (4) For Piano, Op. 10
Title: Chorale Preludes (11) For Organ, Op. 122
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Track List: Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances

Title: Hungarian Dances (21) For Orchestra, Woo 1
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Track List: Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances

Title: Hungarian Dances (21) for piano, 4 hands (or piano solo), WoO 1
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Track List: Brahms: Cello Sonatas 1 & 2

Title: Sonata For Cello & Piano No. 1 In E Minor, Op. 38
Title: Sonata for Cello & Piano No. 2 in F major, Op. 99
Title: Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24
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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works

Title: Songs (3) For Chorus, Op. 42
Title: Songs (5) For Chorus (vocal Sextet), Op. 104
Title: Choruses (4) For Female Voices, 2 Horns & Harp, Op. 17
Title: Quartets (6) For Mixed Voices & Piano, Op. 112
Title: Zigeunerlieder (11) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, Op. 103
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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works, Disc 1

Title: Liebeslieder Waltzes (18) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 52
Title: Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes (15) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 65
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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works, Disc 4

Title: German Folk Songs (14) For Chorus (& Piano), WoO 34
Title: German Folk Songs (12) For Chorus (& Piano), WoO 35
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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works, Disc 5

Title: Zigeunerlieder (11) For Vocal Quartet & Piano, Op. 103
Title: Quartets (6) For Mixed Voices & Piano, Op. 112
Title: German Folk Songs (49) For Voice & Piano (Nos. 44-49 W/ Chorus Ad Lib), WoO 33
Title: Tafellied. Dank Der Damen ("Gleich Wie Echo"), For Chorus & Piano, Op. 93b
Title: Kleine Hochzeitskantate ("Zwei Geliebte"), For Chorus & Piano, WoO Posth. 16
Title: Dem Dunkeln Schoß Der Heil'gen Erde, For Chorus, WoO Posth. 20
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Track List: Brahms: Choral Works, Disc 7

Title: Marienlieder (7) For Chorus, Op. 22
Title: Fest- Und Gedenksprüche (3) For Double Chorus, Op. 109
Title: Songs (5) For Male Chorus, Op. 41
Title: Songs And Romances (12) For Female Chorus, Op. 44
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Track List: Brahms: Complete Organ Works

Title: Prelude And Fugue For Organ In A Minor, WoO Posth. 9
Title: Prelude And Fugue For Organ In G Minor, WoO Posth. 10
Title: Fugue For Organ In A Flat Minor, WoO 8
Title: Choral Prelude And Fugue For Organ ("O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid"), WoO 7
Title: Chorale Preludes (11) For Organ, Op. 122
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Track List: Brahms: Complete Piano Trios

Disc 1
Title: Piano Trio No. 1 In B Major, Op. 8
Title: Trio for horn (or viola or cello), violin & piano in E flat major, Op. 40
Disc 2
Title: Piano Trio No. 2 In C Major, Op. 87
Title: Piano Trio No. 3 In C Minor, Op. 101
Title: Trio For Clarinet (Or Viola), Cello & Piano In A Minor, Op. 114
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Track List: Brahms: Complete String Quartets, Quintets & Sextets

Disc 1
Title: String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51/1
Title: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51/2
Disc 2
Title: String Quartet No. 3 in B flat major, Op. 67
Title: Piano Quintet In F Minor, Op. 34a
Disc 3
Title: String Quintet No. 1 in F major ("Spring"), Op. 88
Title: String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111
Disc 4
Title: Trio For Clarinet (Or Viola), Cello & Piano In A Minor, Op. 114
Title: Clarinet Quintet In B Minor, Op. 115
Disc 5
Title: String Sextet No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 18
Title: String Sextet No. 2 in G major, Op. 36
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Track List: Brahms: Die Schöne Magelone, Op. 33

Title: Romances (15) From Tieck's "Die Schöne Magelone" For Voice & Piano, Op. 33
Title: Songs (6) for voice & piano, Op. 85
Title: Songs (8) For Voice & Piano, Op. 59
Title: Songs (9) for voice & piano, Op. 32
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Track List: Brahms: Four Hand Piano Music, Vol. 9

x

Track List: Brahms: Hungarian Dances

Disc 1
Title: Hungarian Dances (21) For Orchestra, Woo 1
Disc 10
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Track List: Brahms: Piano Concertos and Solo Piano Works

Disc 1
Title: Piano Concerto No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 15
Disc 2
Title: Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 83
Disc 3
Title: Intermezzi (3) For Piano, Op. 117
Title: Pieces (8) for Piano, Op. 76
Title: Rhapsodies (2) For Piano, Op. 79
Title: Pieces (4) For Piano, Op. 119
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Track List: Brahms: Serenade No.2/Variations On A Theme/Academic Festival Overture

Title: Serenade For Orchestra No. 2 In A Major, Op. 16
Title: Variations On A Theme Of Haydn For Orchestra In B Flat Major (St. Anthony Variations), Op. 56a
Title: Academic Festival Overture, For Orchestra In C Minor ("Akademische Festouvertüre"), Op. 80
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Track List: Brahms: Sonatas For Clarinet & Piano, Op.120