Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:25 am

Opus132 wrote:The three Bs thing comes from Hanslick.
And Hanslick's third B (jbuck, shield your eyes!) was Berlioz.

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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:28 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Nonsense! A requiem is NOT program music, even if Mahler stated that "all music written after Beethoven is 'program music'".
Doesn't matter (to me, at any rate) what Mahler did or did not say, Jack. A requiem is a setting of a text, and when a composer sets a text, there are extra-musical considerations (viz., the text) which are imposed upon the content and form of the music. All texted music is some kind of 'program music', broadly speaking.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:53 am

Teresa B wrote:Well, here's one female music-lover who is fond of Brahms.
It's the beard and those cigars. :)

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:59 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Nonsense! A requiem is NOT program music, even if Mahler stated that "all music written after Beethoven is 'program music'".
Doesn't matter (to me, at any rate) what Mahler did or did not say, Jack. A requiem is a setting of a text, and when a composer sets a text, there are extra-musical considerations (viz., the text) which are imposed upon the content and form of the music. All texted music is some kind of 'program music', broadly speaking.

Cheers,
~Karl
Definition is everything. As I've learned in music, program music (proper) didn't exist before Berlioz and Liszt. A friend of mine, a concert pianist and musicologist, once argued that Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave" ("Hebrides") Overture is a symphonic poem before Liszt invented the term.

If you use the absolutely broad meaning, then Bach's cantatas, many of Haydn's symphonies ("The Clock", "The Bear", etc.), Beethoven's "Eroica", Schumann's "Rhenish" (his publisher suggested the title) are program music---even though we don't listen to them in the way we might listen to Smetana's "The Moldau" or Strauss' "Don Juan".

Tschüß,
Jack
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:05 am

Teresa B wrote:....I got to know more of his works, and started to study the wonderful late piano pieces. I have found these pieces to express every imaginable emotion, and they get better the longer you know them.

All the best,
Teresa
Piano works of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms do demand a good number of hearings----but offer wonderful rewards. Brahms' 1st Rhapsody, opus 79 is my personal favorite of his shorter works. A real beaut'!

Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:05 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Definition is everything.
To be sure!
As I've learned in music, program music (proper) didn't exist before Berlioz and Liszt.
Then must the Beethoven Opus 68 and Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni be highly improper :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Wallingford » Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:53 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Nonsense! A requiem is NOT program music, even if Mahler stated that "all music written after Beethoven is 'program music'".
Doesn't matter (to me, at any rate) what Mahler did or did not say, Jack. A requiem is a setting of a text, and when a composer sets a text, there are extra-musical considerations (viz., the text) which are imposed upon the content and form of the music. All texted music is some kind of 'program music', broadly speaking.

Cheers,
~Karl
Requiems & such were always produced strictly to go along with a church service. Brahms most likely didn't write his Requiem for any specific church, he was merely utilizing an established form. He did that with all his chamber works, his concertos and his symphonies--the one exception, in the latter, being the "frisch aber froh" motif that he used cyclically in the Third Symphony. And as for the so-called Intermezzos & Rhapsodies, Fantasies & Ballades for piano, he seemed merely to tack these titles on as an afterthought: the G-Minor Rhapsody, for instance, is really one of the clearest-cut examples of sonata-allegro form you can imagine.
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Post by lmpower » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:05 pm

I would also place Brahms right behind Bach, Mozart and Beethoven on the greatness scale. I may even have drawn closer to Brahms than to that trio of masters. Bach was the supreme intellectual master of counterpoint and expression of the Protestant Christian tradition. Mozart was the heavenly angel who showed us how beautiful life might be. Beethoven was to music what Shakespeare was to drama and Tolstoy to the novel. He experienced every aspect of human life intensely and explored special territory in his late quartets. The adjective melancholy has been attached to Brahms. I think the phrase Autumnal nostalgia describes some of his best and most characteristic moments. Corlyss has pointed out the bombastic passages in Brahms, which I don't think are his best and most Brahmsian expressions. Robert Schumann was the quintessential romantic. He wasn't the greatest talent of the nineteenth century, but there are times in some of his work when my love for him must rival that of Jack Kelso.

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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:33 pm

I don't think I've ever stated my Mount Olympus (not that anyone should care), but in alphabetical order, here goes:

Bach
Beethoven
Brahms (quelle coincidence)
Chopin
Handel
Haydn
Mendelssohn
Mozart
Schubert
Schumann
Wagner

Yes, I know that's ten, not twelve. There are many other great composers, and those who know my posts, including my frequent kidder and friend Karl Henning, know that I appreciate many others, but if you want a Parnassus Parnassorum (?) it is very difficult for me to go past that grouping without some serious equivocation. Many people would already question my putting Mendelssohn there, but there is something in Pascal about reasons that reason cannot know.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:41 pm

Wallingford wrote:Requiems & such were always produced strictly to go along with a church service.
Well, originally, the Missa pro defunctis was simply chanted.

Berlioz's was already a state-occasion Mass, some little time ahead of Brahms.
Brahms most likely didn't write his Requiem for any specific church, he was merely utilizing an established form.
No, actually he set the established form aside. (This in itself was a very creative approach, of course.)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by lmpower » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:02 pm

John, I like your Olympian list. Let's just add Mahler, Strauss and Tchaikowsky.

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Post by Stonebraker » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:35 pm

I think this thread has disgressed a little from the original post. I agree that Brahms is less appreciated than the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, and I think most people would. I think the question is whether this is warranted or not.

So I'll contribute to this highy opinionated discussion with my highly opinionated and pretentious thoughts:

Is it who did it first? Or who did it best? Because to me, those two questions have opposite answers.

IMO, if it's who did it first, then Bach has to be considered the greatest, followed by Mozart and Haydn, and Beethoven. My knowledge of music prior to Bach is non-existent, so I place Bach as the greatest in this context because his music laid the groundwork for everyone who came after him. As for who laid the foundation for Bach, I don't know.

IMO, if it's who did it best, then you'd have to start with more recent people, who had the advantage of learning from the mistakes of composers of the past. For instance, I'd have to say Mahler is the greatest composer ever, because 100% of his music is accesible and exciting (to me). And despite the love I have for some works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, they also wrote some terribly boring music, music which really doesn't speak to me and connect with me, and doesn't inspire me.

So what are we talking about here? I agree that Brahms is under appreciated. His symphonic output is, like Mahler, 100% accesible and exciting. Each one of his four symphonies, and his two overtures, spoke to me on the first listen, and continue to inspire me. Maybe Haydn wrote more symphonies that people enjoy in general, lets say for example, 20 symphonies that are considered great works. Well that would be roughly 20% of his symphonic output. So who is better?

My two cents, I just wanted to help contribute to the digression of this post.
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Post by Teresa B » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:02 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Piano works of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms do demand a good number of hearings----but offer wonderful rewards. Brahms' 1st Rhapsody, opus 79 is my personal favorite of his shorter works. A real beaut'!
Jack
Hey Jack, that is one of my favorites, too! I played it at my "senior recital" in college.

Teresa
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Post by Teresa B » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:12 pm

Stonebraker wrote:I think this thread has disgressed a little from the original post. I agree that Brahms is less appreciated than the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, and I think most people would. I think the question is whether this is warranted or not.
Do you mean, "Should Brahms be less appreciated for some reason?" I don't think so, from a subjective viewpoint, because I love Brahms. But maybe Brahms is less appreciated because:

?There is more Mozart and Beethoven played in the media for any number of reasons, so more exposure and familiarity

?Brahms' writing is dense and often complex. Thus it may be "easier" for a greater number of people to listen to and apprehend what is being expressed in Mozart and Beethoven. (not in every case, obviously, but just in general.)

I would not say that Brahms is in any way inferior to the other composers and thus deserves less appreciation!

Teresa
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Post by Hondo » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:58 pm

Teresa wrote:

"I would not say that Brahms is in any way inferior to the other composers and thus deserves less appreciation!"

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so greatness is in the mind and ears of the listener! I'm truly amazed at the responses in this thread - why can't we just accept that each of us will have a different concept and definition of greatness? I think few people will deny that Brahms was one of the greatest composers. Just look at the conductors who have recorded his symphonies and other works: Toscanini, Weingartner, Klemperer, Wand, etc. Whether Brahms belongs in the top ten, top twenty or top thirty doesn't really matter. What matters is that he is great as far as a particular listener is concerned!

Gabe

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Post by Stonebraker » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:01 pm

Teresa B wrote:
Stonebraker wrote:I think this thread has disgressed a little from the original post. I agree that Brahms is less appreciated than the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, and I think most people would. I think the question is whether this is warranted or not.
Do you mean, "Should Brahms be less appreciated for some reason?" I don't think so, from a subjective viewpoint, because I love Brahms. But maybe Brahms is less appreciated because:

?There is more Mozart and Beethoven played in the media for any number of reasons, so more exposure and familiarity

?Brahms' writing is dense and often complex. Thus it may be "easier" for a greater number of people to listen to and apprehend what is being expressed in Mozart and Beethoven. (not in every case, obviously, but just in general.)

I would not say that Brahms is in any way inferior to the other composers and thus deserves less appreciation!

Teresa
I agree with all your points! Brahm's Symphonies changed the way I looked at music. I still only really "know" first two. Each symphony seems to be greater than the last, and holds more gems than the last. I thought the ending of Brahms Sym. no. 1 was the most inspiring music I'd ever heard in my life, I equated listening to it to the feeling of flying in a dream. When I started listening to symphony No. 2, I began to realize what an expert craftsman Brahms is. While not the greatest melodist, he can take even the smallest motive and work every beautiful possibility out of it. So after initialy thinking Brahms first symphony was the best, I came to the conclusion that Brahms second symphony was the greatest achievement in all of music.

Then I listened to the opening Bars of the third symphony. I don't think any two chords have stuck in my head for so long. Then the contrast of F major vs F minor!? WTF!!

I've listened to his symphonies 3&4 dozens of times, but I haven't been able to dive into them the way I dove into the first two. I'm sure with time they will open up to me.

Sorry to ramble, but the point is I love Brahms, and I'm not sure if I stated that clearly enough in my post. Listening to Brahms changed my life, and after Mahler, hes is my favorite symphonic master. Just wanted to be super clear! :D
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Post by Hondo » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:02 pm

Wallingford wrote:

" Brahms most likely didn't write his Requiem for any specific church, he was merely utilizing an established form."

Although Brahms began work on the Requiem before his mother died in 1865, her death had a deep impact on him, and his level of commitment to completing the work was greatly hightened.

Gabe
Last edited by Hondo on Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Stonebraker » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:03 pm

Hondo wrote:Teresa wrote:

"I would not say that Brahms is in any way inferior to the other composers and thus deserves less appreciation!"

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so greatness is in the mind and ears of the listener! I'm truly amazed at the responses in this thread - why can't we just accept that each of us will have a different concept and definition of greatness? I think few people will deny that Brahms was one of the greatest composers. Just look at the conductors who have recorded his symphonies and other works: Toscanini, Weingartner, Klemperer, Wand, etc. Whether Brahms belongs in the top ten, top twenty or top thirty doesn't really matter. What matters is that he is great as far as a particular listener is concerned!

Gabe
Wait, so are you for or against Brahms as the single most important person in the history of the world?

lol just kidding... I agree with you!
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Post by diegobueno » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:03 am

On several occasions I have heard the though expressed* that the Brahms Clarinet Quintet op. 115 is the very summit of chamber music, the very greatest that has been composed in that genre.


* (by non-clarinetists no less!)

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:25 am

lmpower wrote:I would also place Brahms right behind Bach, Mozart and Beethoven on the greatness scale. I may even have drawn closer to Brahms than to that trio of masters. Bach was the supreme intellectual master of counterpoint and expression of the Protestant Christian tradition. Mozart was the heavenly angel who showed us how beautiful life might be. Beethoven was to music what Shakespeare was to drama and Tolstoy to the novel. He experienced every aspect of human life intensely and explored special territory in his late quartets. The adjective melancholy has been attached to Brahms. I think the phrase Autumnal nostalgia describes some of his best and most characteristic moments. Corlyss has pointed out the bombastic passages in Brahms, which I don't think are his best and most Brahmsian expressions. Robert Schumann was the quintessential romantic. He wasn't the greatest talent of the nineteenth century, but there are times in some of his work when my love for him must rival that of Jack Kelso.
Gosh, Impower...thanks for the praise----but I'm not a solo voice in the wilderness in praising the greatest composer since Beethoven.

Pianists Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Andras Schiff are/were of the same mind. As are 'cellists Stephen Isserlis and Daniel Müller-Schott, conductors George Szell, Wolfgang Sawallisch, John Eliot Gardiner, William Boughton, Leonard Bernstein----composers Hans Pfitzner, Heinz Holliger, Claude Debussy, Edward ("Schumann has always been my ideal") Elgar, etc.

One needs to listen deeply and often to Schumann works in order to discover the inner beauties and strengths (e.g. "Das Paradies und die Peri").

But Brahms is an excellent composer, almost always technically adroit and a master of whatever form he tackled. What he may have lacked in inspiration he did his best to make up for in high-minded ambition. I would rank him about equal with Haydn and Schubert.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:34 am

diegobueno wrote:On several occasions I have heard the though expressed* that the Brahms Clarinet Quintet op. 115 is the very summit of chamber music, the very greatest that has been composed in that genre.


* (by non-clarinetists no less!)


Really...?! Wow, what's this thread called again?!

Brahms underrated?!?Why, this is a real nest of Brahmsians!

The Brahms work isn't bad, but I'd take the Mozart Clarinet Quintet over it any day.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by rasputin » Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:03 am

diegobueno wrote:On several occasions I have heard the though expressed* that the Brahms Clarinet Quintet op. 115 is the very summit of chamber music, the very greatest that has been composed in that genre.


* (by non-clarinetists no less!)


I totally agree. Have 5 versions and every time I listened to it, I admire
the piece more.

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Post by Sergeant Rock » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:07 am

diegobueno wrote: I have known some non-musicians (all of them women for some reason) who were less than enthusiastic about Brahms even though they liked classical music in general. Has anyone else noted a gender bias in dislike for Brahms?
My mother was a great pianist. I recall lots of Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Mozart...no Brahms. On the other hand, Mrs. Rock's favorite composer is Brahms. Maybe she's the exception that proves the rule.

Sarge
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:15 am

For me, the finest and most gratifying chamber works of Brahms are the Sextet in B-Flat, op. 18, the Piano Quartet No. 1 in g minor, op. 25 and the Piano Quintet, op. 34. But I also enjoy the Violin Sonata, op. 78 ("Regentropfen-Sonate").

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:59 am

Jack Kelso wrote:For me, the finest and most gratifying chamber works of Brahms are the Sextet in B-Flat, op. 18, the Piano Quartet No. 1 in g minor, op. 25
Which last Schoenberg very colorfully and playfully orchestrated, you know, Jack!

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:06 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:For me, the finest and most gratifying chamber works of Brahms are the Sextet in B-Flat, op. 18, the Piano Quartet No. 1 in g minor, op. 25
Which last Schoenberg very colorfully and playfully orchestrated, you know, Jack!

Cheers,
~Karl
Yes indeed, Karl. I have the performance, recorded from radio. One might call it "Brahms' Fifth"! (Well, for him a "fifth" was something else again.)

Tschüß,
Jack
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Post by diegobueno » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:34 am

Sergeant Rock wrote:
diegobueno wrote: I have known some non-musicians (all of them women for some reason) who were less than enthusiastic about Brahms even though they liked classical music in general. Has anyone else noted a gender bias in dislike for Brahms?
My mother was a great pianist. I recall lots of Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Mozart...no Brahms. On the other hand, Mrs. Rock's favorite composer is Brahms. Maybe she's the exception that proves the rule.

Sarge
It would be difficult to make a "rule" out of something so general. My methodology in coming up with my "Brahms is from Mars, Puccini is from Venus" rule was extremely unscientific, and it should come as no surprise that the conclusion is flawed. It comes only from observing non-musician friends who like classical music.

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Post by lmpower » Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:09 pm

diegobueno wrote:On several occasions I have heard the though expressed* that the Brahms Clarinet Quintet op. 115 is the very summit of chamber music, the very greatest that has been composed in that genre.


* (by non-clarinetists no less!)
I completely agree that Brahms' clarinet quintet is not only his best but one of the great works of all time. I am also not a clarinetist.

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Post by slofstra » Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:36 pm

I am surprised that the Piano Concerto's (two of them) have not come up in the present discussion, surely equalling or surpassing the symphonies in scope and ambition.
The Second Piano Concerto is both accessible and deep. It must rank with works such as Beethoven's Fifth or Rach's Third (or Second) Concerto.
And I enthusiastically second the positive take on Bach's chamber music, esp. op. 25 and 115. But it's all good!

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:20 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:For me, the finest and most gratifying chamber works of Brahms are the Sextet in B-Flat, op. 18, the Piano Quartet No. 1 in g minor, op. 25 and the Piano Quintet, op. 34. But I also enjoy the Violin Sonata, op. 78 ("Regentropfen-Sonate").
Thrilled to hear it, Jack. :roll:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

James

Post by James » Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:07 am

man, can't wait to hear the Brahm's Clarinet Quintet, I have it coming in the mail coupled with the Mozart. Joy.

My fave Brahms chamber work thus far is the Piano Quintet.


karlhenning wrote:Piano Quartet No. 1 in g minor, op. 25

Which last Schoenberg very colorfully and playfully orchestrated, you know, Jack!
yeah, i just got this...recently released on the latest craft/naxos...haven't given it a proper listen yet.

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:29 am

diegobueno wrote:All the musicians I know in the real world worship Brahms as one of the "holy trinity" as has been stated here.
That's my experience as well: Brahms is surely a "musician's musician."

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Post by diegobueno » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:14 pm

One of my classmates in college, now a respected musicologist, was one woman who really really loved Brahms. In fact she thought Brahms' music was sexy, and would go on in frankly erotic terms about how she felt when she listened to, say, the 2nd piano concerto. She had a crush on a certain piano teacher, and at one recital he did a lot of Brahms. Oh boy, the look on her face when she described that recital afterwards!!

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Post by Hondo » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:22 pm

slofsftra wrote:

"I am surprised that the Piano Concerto's (two of them) have not come up in the present discussion, surely equalling or surpassing the symphonies in scope and ambition."

I agree wholeheartedly! I have always thought Brahms' Piano Concerti were his greatest works. The 1st is powerful and majestic; the 2nd more melodious and musical. Many wonderful recordings exist of both works: I happen to like Clifford Curzon in the first, and Artur Rubinstein in the second. I also have the Gould/Bernstein performance of the first (with Bernstein's famous disclaimer at the begining), but it's always been more of a curiosity than anything else.

Gabe

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:56 pm

Hondo wrote:I have always thought Brahms' Piano Concerti were his greatest works.

Gabe
Well, I can't say whether the two piano concerti are Brahms' greatest works (he has SO MANY great masterpieces); but I do believe that they represent the pinnacle of the piano concerto literature . . . . . . . There's really nothing quite like them . . . . . . . Even in Beethoven . . . . . .

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Post by Hondo » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:08 pm

brahms wrote:

"Well, I can't say whether the two piano concerti are Brahms' greatest works (he has SO MANY great masterpieces); but I do believe that they represent the pinnacle of the piano concerto literature . . . . . . . There's really nothing quite like them . . . . . . . Even in Beethoven . . . . . "

Being a major Beethoven lover, I will humbly disagree with your last statement. Beethoven's third and fourth piano concerti being my alltime favorites in that genre. But, as I said earlier, we all can have our own list of "greatest" composers or pieces of music.

BTW, I'm reasonably new to this forum, and have not yet figured out how to get other members' quotes into a white box, like you did. Can you clue me in?

Gabe
Last edited by Hondo on Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:15 pm

Hondo wrote:
BTW, I'm reasonably new to this forum, and have not yet figured out how to get other members' quotes into a white box, like you did. Can you clue me in?

Gabe
Hi, Gabe. You'll see a QUOTE button on the upper right corner of the author's post box. Click on that, and you'll be set.

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:18 pm

Hondo wrote:
Being a major Beethoven lover, I will humbly disagree with your last statement. Beethoven's third and fourth piano concerti being my alltime favorites in that genre.
You have excellent taste: Beethoven's 4th and 5th are in my "top 5" for piano concerti, so our disagreement is almost non-existent. :D

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Post by Hondo » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:26 pm

Brahms wrote:

"Hi, Gabe. You'll see a QUOTE button on the upper right corner of the author's post box. Click on that, and you'll be set."

I got that far, but don't know what to do next. Can't locate an appropriate button to click on to post my message.

Gabe

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:44 pm

Hondo wrote:Brahms wrote:

"Hi, Gabe. You'll see a QUOTE button on the upper right corner of the author's post box. Click on that, and you'll be set."

I got that far, but don't know what to do next. Can't locate an appropriate button to click on to post my message.

Gabe
You hit the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the box.

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Post by Sapphire » Fri Feb 02, 2007 4:49 pm

To get this discussion back on track, can anyone who thinks that Brahms is as widely appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach please state their evidence. Specifically, which measures of popularity are they basing these assertions upon? Same question regards Schumann. I'm talking about general world-wide popularity, not individual markets. I'm also talking about what is, not what ought to be, which confusion has dogged this thread from the beginning.

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Post by daycart » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:23 pm

Despite the efforts of some critics, I don't think Brahms gets a lot of points for originality or influence.

But for sheer beauty, Brahms is #1 with me! 8) (I got some early exposure because he was my mother's favorite as well).

In every genre in which he worked I love his works best, except perhaps for piano sonatas.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:06 am

daycart wrote:Despite the efforts of some critics, I don't think Brahms gets a lot of points for originality or influence.
As far as originality is concerned, I don't think Schoenberg's famous essay to which I already referred should be dismissed as the "effort of some critic," but it does show that the issue you allude to existed already in Brahms' own time and immediately thereafter.

As far as influence is concerned, it would not be hard to make a case that Brahms did to his successors what Beethoven did to Brahms, i.e. impeded or at least severely challenged them by the anxiety of influence. Of course, there is the little matter of another giant, Wagner, feeding into that situation. But none of them, not Mahler, or Strauss, or Schoenberg, failed to realize that he lived in the shadow of Brahms.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by johnshade » Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:05 am

jbuck919 wrote: But none of them, not Mahler, or Strauss, or Schoenberg, failed to realize that he lived in the shadow of Brahms.
From: "Strauss's Musical Landscapes"
by Leon Botstein
It was in a world preoccupied with such mania for musical factionalism, in which radical and irreconcilable camps and schools of thought within music sprang like mushrooms, that Richard Strauss was born and came of age as a composer. His father, a great Horn player, was an avowed anti-Wagnerite, who held an absolutist position dominated by a deep regard for the heritage of Viennese classicism. Richard Strauss’s first success as a composer came under the aegis of the pro-Brahms club led by that fallen angel from the Wagner circle, the cuckolded husband and great pianist and conductor, Hans von Bülow. Strauss’s earliest career reflects this association: he actually wrote symphonies in his youth as well as other music that followed the formalist anti-programmatic pattern. ...Through close study of Wagner’s achievement, Strauss became enamored of new possibilities and made contact with a generation of post-Wagnerian contemporaries who, in the wake of the master of Bayreuth’s death in 1883, vowed to carry on his legacy. Strauss began writing instrumental music that conveyed extra-musical significance and meaning to the audience. His first tone poem, Aus Italien, marks the beginning of Strauss’s “second” period. During this time he produced some of his best known music, the great tone poems. This was also a period in which Strauss made his debut as an opera composer beginning with Guntram, Feuersnot, and in 1905 and 1908, Salome and Elektra.
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

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Post by Brahms » Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:42 am

Saphire wrote:To get this discussion back on track, can anyone who thinks that Brahms is as widely appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach please state their evidence. Specifically, which measures of popularity are they basing these assertions upon? Same question regards Schumann. I'm talking about general world-wide popularity, not individual markets. I'm also talking about what is, not what ought to be, which confusion has dogged this thread from the beginning.
It would be astonishing if any composer (including Brahms) could approach the "popularity" of the Holy Trinity. No composer, no matter how great, will ever pierce that barrier.

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Post by Sapphire » Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:03 am

Brahms wrote:[It would be astonishing if any composer (including Brahms) could approach the "popularity" of the Holy Trinity. No composer, no matter how great, will ever pierce that barrier.
Brahms: I agree. I think this answers the first post on this thread. However good Brahms is, he is not appreciated as much as the Holy Trinity. It's difficult to measure the gap, but I think it's quite big. From my observations, I would say that Brahms and Schubert are probably very close in 4th and 5th positions in terms of overall popularity. I greatly appreciate both of these as well as Beethoven and Schumann (they form my top 4). My "list" is usually in a state of flux and right now the one who is heading upwards is Schubert. The more I listen the more I love the Schubert sound.

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Post by Brahms » Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:13 am

Saphire wrote:
Brahms wrote:[It would be astonishing if any composer (including Brahms) could approach the "popularity" of the Holy Trinity. No composer, no matter how great, will ever pierce that barrier.
Brahms: I agree. I think this answers the first post on this thread. However good Brahms is, he is not appreciated as much as the Holy Trinity. It's difficult to measure the gap, but I think it's quite big. From my observations, I would say that Brahms and Schubert are probably very close in 4th and 5th positions in terms of overall popularity. I greatly appreciate both of these as well as Beethoven and Schumann (they form my top 4). My "list" is usually in a state of flux and right now the one who is heading upwards is Schubert. The more I listen the more I love the Schubert sound.
I agree that Brahms and Schubert are probably neck-and-neck in terms of overall popularity; although I suspect that Brahms gets programmed more in the concert halls.

And I also agree that Schubert is constantly inching upwards in my listening and music appreciation. 8)

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:17 am

Brahms wrote: It would be astonishing if any composer (including Brahms) could approach the "popularity" of the Holy Trinity. No composer, no matter how great, will ever pierce that barrier.
Brahms himself knew that. (Please take note of the following, those of you who make fun of me for referring to some composers as beings of another order.) When he was compared to the earlier masters, he wrote back to a correspondent, "Those men were gods. To have the St. Matthew Passion, Don Giovanni, Fidelio, the Ninth Symphony as one's daily bread, no, this is no longer permitted to us."

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Stonebraker » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:29 am

Brahms wrote: It would be astonishing if any composer (including Brahms) could approach the "popularity" of the Holy Trinity. No composer, no matter how great, will ever pierce that barrier.
I disagree. I think with a better educated public, the popularity would seem to reverse. To me, the most accesible music is that of the romantic era. Moreso than the composers of the Baroque and Classical eras, these people spoke through their music about whta it is like to be a human being; the frustrations, the incredible joy, the fears we all hold. So if we're talking about the public popularity of the "holy trinity", I think it could easily be destroyed if the public cared to know the music of Brahms or Gustav Mahler.

If we're talking about innovators, well then I don't see how anyone can pierce the "holy trinity". But innovation doesn't equal greatness, at least to me. There's whole sections of music from each of those composers that aren't orchestrated well. Each of those composers had lots of very boring music (to me).

As usual I disgress, but I think the music of Brahms and Mahler and Tchikovsky is more relevant today than at any point in history, and if only the public cared to know, their music would eclipse the popularity of the "holy trinity".
Paul Stonebraker - Promoting orchestral music since '06

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Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:01 pm

Saphire wrote:Can anyone who thinks that Brahms is as widely appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach please state their evidence. Specifically, which measures of popularity are they basing these assertions upon?
Well they all have the same number of compositions on the Billboard Hot 200, that is, zero. Seriously, I don't think there are any "measures of popularity" are there? These debates are entirely subjective, and the difference is in the ear of the beholder. For myself, I find that Brahms is "generally" more mentally invigorating listening than Mozart, and Mozart I tend to find more of a piece while there is more variety in Brahms. But Mozart at his best is certainly more exciting than Brahms, and often more pleasurable. Mozart wrote much more than Brahms did, but Brahms had a much greater musical legacy to surpass. I'm sure he didn't fire off his Concerto's the way Mozart did. So what it comes down to is, you can't compare Brahms and Mozart, but I for one would consider Brahms as one of what writer Philip Goulding (composer ranker extraordinaire) calls the Immortals, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven AND Brahms. (Goulding did not consider Brahms an Immortal.)

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