Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:59 am

val wrote:Brahms has a superb sense of the form, and regarding the rhythm he is perhaps the greatest German composer after Beethoven. But, in the same time, he is a master of the variation, a much more free style of composition.

However, I think that the greatness of Brahms is in the fact that the beauty of his works does not expose it's structure. They sound natural and even spontaneous, with that warm lyricism and deep melancholic emotion.

If I had to chose one single work in his chamber music it would be the Clarinet Quintet.
I'll agree with you somewhat about variation technique, but Schumann is great there as well---and generally heads and shoulders above Brahms in original rhythmic expression and harmonic/melodic invention.

As pertains to form, Schumann is also superior because he never "pushes" a work beyond the form that naturally encompasses its material, so the impression is that the emotion (as with Beethoven) seems to threaten to burst the seams of the form (e.g., in the a-minor Piano Concerto, Piano Quintet, Fourth Symphony, etc. which gives them such innate power).

Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.

The Brahms symphonies impress me as being closer to perfect models of "continuous creation", as with Schumann.

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

Brahms
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Post by Brahms » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:17 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
val wrote:Brahms has a superb sense of the form, and regarding the rhythm he is perhaps the greatest German composer after Beethoven. But, in the same time, he is a master of the variation, a much more free style of composition.

However, I think that the greatness of Brahms is in the fact that the beauty of his works does not expose it's structure. They sound natural and even spontaneous, with that warm lyricism and deep melancholic emotion.

If I had to chose one single work in his chamber music it would be the Clarinet Quintet.
I'll agree with you somewhat about variation technique, but Schumann is great there as well---and generally heads and shoulders above Brahms in original rhythmic expression and harmonic/melodic invention.

As pertains to form, Schumann is also superior because he never "pushes" a work beyond the form that naturally encompasses its material, so the impression is that the emotion (as with Beethoven) seems to threaten to burst the seams of the form (e.g., in the a-minor Piano Concerto, Piano Quintet, Fourth Symphony, etc. which gives them such innate power).

Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.

The Brahms symphonies impress me as being closer to perfect models of "continuous creation", as with Schumann.

Tschüß!
Jack
Have you ever authored a post in which Schumann was NOT mentioned (directly or indirectly; implicitly or explicitly)?

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:40 am

Of course I have, Mr. "Brahms"! And I'm sure you've posted without mentioning YOUR namesake as well...?!

My posts on Handel, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt (Karl Henning brought in Schumann!), Raff, Dvorak, Tschaikowsky, Hindemith, Bartok, Hovhaness, etc., etc. are ALL without a word or link to Schumann. Now, if another poster starts getting Schumann involved---well, then! Wouldn't you jump in about Brahms?

Schumann is the most natural composer to compare with Brahms, since both wrote in the same forms---and Brahms adopted the Schumann style, especially in the chamber music.

No problem for me there...... 8)

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

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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:32 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Of course I have, Mr. "Brahms"!
Well, apart from your signature, of course, Jack :-)

Cheers,
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:14 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Of course I have, Mr. "Brahms"!
Well, apart from your signature, of course, Jack :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Good one, Karl! :lol:

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

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Post by slofstra » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:14 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Of course I have, Mr. "Brahms"! And I'm sure you've posted without mentioning YOUR namesake as well...?!

My posts on Handel, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt (Karl Henning brought in Schumann!), Raff, Dvorak, Tschaikowsky, Hindemith, Bartok, Hovhaness, etc., etc. are ALL without a word or link to Schumann. Now, if another poster starts getting Schumann involved---well, then! Wouldn't you jump in about Brahms?

Schumann is the most natural composer to compare with Brahms, since both wrote in the same forms---and Brahms adopted the Schumann style, especially in the chamber music.

No problem for me there...... 8)

Tschüß!
Jack
Jack, don't take this the wrong way - I'm sure you won't. But why did Glenn Gould call Schumann the most inconsequential of the great composers?

Also, what do you make of Schumann's Cello Concerto?

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:53 am

slofstra wrote:Jack, don't take this the wrong way - I'm sure you won't. But why did Glenn Gould call Schumann the most inconsequential of the great composers?

Also, what do you make of Schumann's Cello Concerto?
I didn't know Gould said something so funny. Since I've never heard/read that from anyone else, I assume he was hitting on Schumann because Gould himself wasn't technically (or emotionally) polished enough to play his music well. Reasons for such outlandishly ridiculous comments usually have a personal bias at their base. A far greater pianist, Sviatoslav Richter, bragged that Schumann was his favorite composer. :)

And Darius Milhaud said that Brahms "is bogus greatness". So even great musicians have their personal problems with some composers.

For many cellists the Schumann concerto is the cream of the crop. It is one long, unbroken song in perfect balance between soloist and orchestra....a superb example of Schumann's late (3rd period) style, with the poetic longing and passionate outbursts culminating in a new and fresh harmonic language. There is an almost chamber-music intimacy about it---and the work is technically challenging. The orchestral parts never drown out the soloist---but rather give support in the most subtle of ways.

It is one of Schumann's finest creations---and one of the greatest 'cello concerti of all time. I highly recommend Jacqueline du Prez (Barenboim conducting) or Janos Starker's old Angel recording (sound is a bit brittle), but Maria Kliegel (on Naxos) is also very good.

This concerto is (in my opinion) one of the four cornerstone works absolutely necessary for a strong, intimate and healthy understanding of Schumann's art. The others are: "Symphonic Etudes" for piano, op. 13; Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 63; "Szenen aus Goethes 'Faust'" for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra (op. post. A3).

Continued "GOOD LISTENING!"
Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Brahms » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:50 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.
Tschüß!
Jack
It obliges me to inform you that the 1st movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto -- one of the most utterly miraculous achievements in all of art -- is wholly "wobble-free" ........ and does not fall victim to "frequent inferior inspiration" ........

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Post by Barry » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:54 pm

Brahms wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.
Tschüß!
Jack
It obliges me to inform you that the 1st movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto -- one of the most utterly miraculous achievements in all of art -- is wholly "wobble-free" ........ and does not fall victim to "frequent inferior inspiration" ........
I missed that one. That movement is one of my favorites from any concerto by any composer.
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Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:55 pm

Barry wrote:
Brahms wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.
Tschüß!
Jack
It obliges me to inform you that the 1st movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto -- one of the most utterly miraculous achievements in all of art -- is wholly "wobble-free" ........ and does not fall victim to "frequent inferior inspiration" ........
I missed that one. That movement is one of my favorites from any concerto by any composer.
Mine Too.... :D

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Post by slofstra » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:04 am

An interesting dichotomy is emerging here.
Schumann = structured, Classical.
Brahms = wandering, Romantic.

So which one of you guys keeps the neatest shoe rack?

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Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:15 am

slofstra wrote:An interesting dichotomy is emerging here.
Schumann = structured, Classical.
Brahms = wandering, Romantic.

So which one of you guys keeps the neatest shoe rack?
I don't have a rack, but I have lots of shoes, they look all nice and neat every Friday when the Cleaning Lady comes... :wink:

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Post by slofstra » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:20 am

Chalkperson wrote:
slofstra wrote:An interesting dichotomy is emerging here.
Schumann = structured, Classical.
Brahms = wandering, Romantic.

So which one of you guys keeps the neatest shoe rack?
I don't have a rack, but I have lots of shoes, they look all nice and neat every Friday when the Cleaning Lady comes... :wink:
If the theory works out, Jack will have the nicest shoe rack. :)

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:26 am

Gee---it took you guys quite a while to let my comments on the Brahms concerti sink in. :)

I enjoy listening to them occasionally (and I've known them both by heart for decades), but no real emotion emanates from them to ME. They are sonically impressive behemoths and I do feel a certain struggle within the music, yet a certain artifice comes through---imagined or perceived. It's just not Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann.

I can't put my finger on it exactly----they just remain emotionally distant and a bit "over the top". Now the Violin Concerto is another matter! 8) , the 2nd Piano Concerto has its great moments, too.

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

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Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:29 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Schumann is ... heads and shoulders above Brahms in original rhythmic expression and harmonic/melodic invention.
***
Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.
Jack Kelso wrote:Gee---it took you guys quite a while to let my comments on the Brahms concerti sink in. :)

I enjoy listening to them occasionally (and I've known them both by heart for decades), but no real emotion emanates from them to ME. They are sonically impressive behemoths and I do feel a certain struggle within the music, yet a certain artifice comes through---imagined or perceived. It's just not Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann.

I can't put my finger on it exactly----they just remain emotionally distant and a bit "over the top". Now the Violin Concerto is another matter! 8) , the 2nd Piano Concerto has its great moments, too.

Tschüß!
Jack
Jack, your posts are troubling on at least four levels.

First, you are internally inconsistent. On the one hand, you argue that the very fabric of Brahms's music is flawed, suffering from wobbly, strained architecture, artificial treatment, and deeply inferior inspiration. On the other hand, only a few posts later, you backpedal, declaring instead that you merely relate better to Schumann because Brahms is emotionally distant to you personally. While there is no issue with your latter admission, your former (eariler) declaration strikes at the very core of the composer and his music.

Second, nobody would more violently disagree with your premise that Brahms's inspirations were so frequently inferior as to produce substandard, artificial, wobbly music than Robert and Clara Schumann ...... The Schumanns went out on a limb to declare that Brahms was a musical Messiah onto whose shoulders the future of music relied. I doubt if Clara Schumann would dedicate a large chunk of her life to performing Brahms's music if it were intrinsically woven of inferior inspiration and suffered from wobbliness and artifice. Recall that Robert Schuman described Brahms in 1853 as a "Young Eagle ... a Mighty Niagara ... a true Apostle" who had "sprung forth, fully armed, like Athena from the head of Zeus, a young man over whose cradle graces and heroes had stood watch ....." Recall that Robert Schumann pleaded with Breitkoph and Hartel to publish the young Brahms's works. Recall that Clara Schumann took careful notes in her diaries as to how she and Robert virtually worshiped Johannes Brahms as an artist.

Third, no artist wielded greater quality control than Brahms. For you to suggest that 50% of Brahms's concerto output (you malign his 1st piano concerto and his double concerto) was intrinsically and obviously substandard (deriving from inferior inspiration and yielding synthetic, artificial, wobbly results) cannot withstand scrutiny. So not only was Brahms a failure as a composer; he was also a failure at quality control, allowing 50% of his shoddy concerto oeuvre to be published.

Fourth, the context of your first post shows that you are dead serious about the accusations you level against Brahms. The context being: while Val was praising Brahms’s variation technique, you slam 50% of Brahms’s concerto output. And you slam not only the music, but the composer himself, suggesting that he falls victim to "frequent inferior inspiration," "artificial," "synthetic" technique leading to "over-compensation" and "wobbliness." Of course, you cannot conceal your true motive; namely, to show that "Schumann is ... heads and shoulders above Brahms in original rhythmic expression and harmonic/melodic invention."

Robert and Clara Schumann would find your evaluations and conclusions about Brahms to be wholly repugnant, and they would strenuously disagree with your anti-Brahms posts on this thread.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:27 pm

My own 2 cents is that Brahms tried to meld the musicial styles of his two major influences - Beethoven and Schumann - with mixed success. He had superior skills to Schumann in counterpoint, transitioning material and orchestration which allowed him to expand upon Schumann's innovations in harmony, his polyrhythmic sense and his lyricism. However stylistically Brahms falls into some formalistic traps now and again (like the SQ's to my ears) where he is much better in Romantic idioms, like the late piano pieces. The one classical form in which his style truly worked wonders is in the sets of variations he wrote.

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Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:02 pm

I might as well post this amusing note in both the Brahms and Tchaikovsky topics. They respected each other as composers, but didn't like each other's music.

From Tchaikovsky: His Life And Works, with Extracts from his Writings, and the Diary of his Tour Abroad in 1888, by Rosa Newmarch, 1899, revised 1908
Rosa Newmarch wrote:M. Kashkin gives an amusing account of the meeting between Brahms and Tchaikovsky at Hamburg [in 1889], where the latter had gone to conduct his Fifth Symphony. They had met two years earlier in Leipzig, but Brahms journeyed to Hamburg on purpose to hear the new symphony. After the concert he invited the Russian composer to dine with him, and after entertaining him most hospitably, he confided to him with quiet sincerity that he did not like the symphony at all. He spoke so simply that Tchaikovsky did not feel in the least hurt, only he was encouraged to speak out with the same uncompromising sincerity his own convictions about the work of the great German master. They parted excellent friends ; but never had another opportunity of meeting.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote:I deeply revere the artistic personality of Brahms. I bow to the actual purity of his musical tendencies, and admire his firm and proud renunciation of all the tricks which solemnise the Wagnerian cult, and in a much less degree the worship of Liszt, but I do not care for his music.
Note: Rosa Newmarch (1857-1940) was an English writer on music, and a President of the Royal College of Music. She was greatly interested in Russian music, and her book was one of the first in English to analyze Tchaikovsky's life and music in detail.
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Post by Wallingford » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:01 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Gee---it took you guys quite a while to let my comments on the Brahms concerti sink in. :)

I enjoy listening to them occasionally (and I've known them both by heart for decades), but no real emotion emanates from them to ME. They are sonically impressive behemoths and I do feel a certain struggle within the music, yet a certain artifice comes through---imagined or perceived. It's just not Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann.

I can't put my finger on it exactly----they just remain emotionally distant and a bit "over the top". Now the Violin Concerto is another matter! 8) , the 2nd Piano Concerto has its great moments, too.

Tschüß!
Jack
The best defense I can find for Brahms' concerti was penned by pianist/program-director (for WQXR) Abram Chasins, in his book Speaking Of Pianists:

As with every art form Brahms approached, he was fully aware of the responsibilities involved, and both Piano Concertos cost him mighty strivings and struggles through long years.

Everybody knows that the First Concerto was originally conceived as a symphony. But it is also unquestioningly accepted that Brahms' self-criticism told him that the work was "not adequate as a symphony," an that he therefore next attempted to convert it into a "sonata for 2 pianos" before it took its present shape.

Brahms did indeed begin to sketch the work as a symphony , but the rest of its history seems to me a compounded error. Brahms planned the composition as a symphony because his principal themes are chiefly symphonic. The theory that Brahms, after wrestling with his material, felt himself or his ideas "inadequate to a symphony" appears implausible. What is a symphony? Architecturally it is a sonata for orchestra, just as a concerto is a sonata for one or more solo instruments with orchestra. Names are insignificant. Brahms' concertos possess symphonic scope and content, and not only was their creator adequate to a symphonic task, but he also understood clearly what most annotators do not--that a classical concerto poses bulkier problems than a classical symphony.

At any rate, it would be perfectly natural for a composer of Brahms' cautious workmanship while in the throes of creative trial to set down his ideas in a convenient 2-piano form to be scored later. What happened then, and it cold well have been aided b the medium of his "shorthand sketch," was that piano figurations and sonorities began to intrude themselves irresistibly upon the project. The inevitable result was a piano concerto.

It is significant that a quarter of a century later Brahms took no detours in mapping out his Second Piano Conerto. I do not share the opinion that greater maturity enabled him to take the direct route to its final form, for the First Concerto discloses a composer whose genius was completely liberated from all immaturities. The answer would seem to lie in the fact that the First Concerto was virtually an abstract inspiration in search of the right medium and frame. The Second was born with an unmistakable physiognomy--a classical piano concerto containing an added movement and an orchestral partnership of unique dimension.

....They are anything but showpieces, so that they are unlikely to attract any but substantial musicians. Everything in them is music; everything reflects the force and ardor and serene spaciousness of their creator. Their vast power and organization are enough to make any serious-minded artist demand from himself the minimum task of devoting to their re-creation a measureof that inexorable self-criticism and artistic responsibility which Brahms lavished on their creation.

According to GROVE'S DICTIONARY, in Ebenezer Prout's fatal definition of a concerto as "an instrumental composition designed to show the skill of an executant," Brahms wrote no piano concertos at all; nor, if one pursues such a notion further, did he write a violin concerto or one for violin and violoncello. That, at any rate, is what his contemporaries meant when they informed Brahms that what he producee was not concertos but symphonies, with all but inaudible obbligato parts for solo instruments . Even the brilliant, loyal Hanslick was trapped into parroting the absurdity. It gives us an idea of how much more Brahms knew about the antecedents of his concerto style than the scholars who surrounded him, none of whom appears to have grasped the salient organic principles of the art form that stimulated Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms to their greatest powers.
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Post by keaggy220 » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:49 am

Barry wrote:
Brahms wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Yet with Brahms, even some of his best-known orchestral works (1st mvt, First Piano Concerto, "Double Concerto, 1st mvt) there is that artificial "straining too hard" to over-compensate for frequently inferior inspiration---and the form becomes wobbly due often to overuse of synthetic material.
Tschüß!
Jack
It obliges me to inform you that the 1st movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto -- one of the most utterly miraculous achievements in all of art -- is wholly "wobble-free" ........ and does not fall victim to "frequent inferior inspiration" ........
I missed that one. That movement is one of my favorites from any concerto by any composer.
Of course, the first movement of the first PC is the favorite of many classical music fans.

I think Brahms' greatest strength's are his ability to push the limits of the dramatic without being melodramatic and his ability to push the limits of emotion without being sentimental. I believe his first PC is a great showcase of these strengths.

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Post by Mozartiana » Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:01 pm

I play piano and one of my favorite pieces is the Intermezzo in A from Six Piano Pieces Op.118 #2. It is so tender and romantic in a very quiet way with many inner voices over a plaintive melody. It is very introspective and spiritual.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:19 am

Obviously, I've stepped on many Brahms fans' feet here and I'm sorry if some of my comments on THOSE two concerti offended, but there are many musicologists who are of similar opinion.

I should have stated that my remarks were directed primarily toward the 1st movements of those works (opp. 15 and 102). Even Brahms' astute biographer, Swiss composer and author Hans Gal, admits to weak and inconsistent passage work in the Double Concerto and says that the opus 15 is very cluttered in the art of instrumentation (the winds don't get through properly) and that while the work is highly emotional it DOES contain plodding material. Much of this is---in the words of B. H. Haggin, "labored and bombastic proclamations, with stretches of arid manipulation". I didn't invent this stuff.

As opposed to many "super-Brahmsians" (like Dr. David Wright), I DO NOT knock down Schumann to bolster Brahms....nor do I do the reverse. This thread is an invitation to voice what bothers one about the Hamburg Master---and this it.

Not everyone who loves Brahms' music for what it is believes that every note Brahms wrote was sanctity. He has weaknesses (and some weak works) just as any other great master. Thanks for so much feedback. :)

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

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Post by Lance » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:38 am

Just my two cents here ... I could NOT possibly be allergic to Brahms' music. His music is as necessary to me as Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff and so many others to my musical life and enjoyment. I have ofen read of Brahms's so-called inferior musicality in comparison to others, specifically Schumann, but I do not concur. Music touches people in different ways. Most composers had "flaws" that were noted by other composers and some performers (not unusual in that Paganini's and some of Tchaikovsky's works were generally considered "unplayable" in their time), or was considered music that "stinks in the ear" (pertaining to Tchaikovsky). But I accept them all for whatever they have left for posterity. (Parenthetically, I generally draw the line on contemporary music ... sorry some guy!) Today, because of recordings, we can take in or reject anything we do not personally like or admire, or in the concert hall, we can merely walk out.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:49 am

Lance wrote:Just my two cents here ... I could NOT possibly be allergic to Brahms' music. His music is as necessary to me as Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff and so many others to my musical life and enjoyment. I have ofen read of Brahms's so-called inferior musicality in comparison to others, specifically Schumann, but I do not concur. Music touches people in different ways. Most composers had "flaws" that were noted by other composers and some performers (not unusual in that Paganini's and some of Tchaikovsky's works were generally considered "unplayable" in their time), or was considered music that "stinks in the ear" (pertaining to Tchaikovsky). But I accept them all for whatever they have left for posterity. (Parenthetically, I generally draw the line on contemporary music ... sorry some guy!) Today, because of recordings, we can take in or reject anything we do not personally like or admire, or in the concert hall, we can merely walk out.
Certainly you're right, Lance. I might occasionally over-react to some posts of the large Brahms cult's idolatry of their man, but I really do love most of Brahms' works---and even those that I've criticized (or quoted from others) I enjoy listening to occasionally (when I've got the time :wink: ).

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

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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:22 am

Lance wrote:Most composers had "flaws" that were noted by other composers and some performers
In his book Musical Memories (1919), Camille Saint-Saëns wrote: "it is not the absence of defects but the presence of merits which makes works and men great. It is not always well to be without blemish. A too regular face or too pure a voice lacks expression. If there is no such thing as perfection in this world, it is doubtless because it is not needed."
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http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
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Post by Brahms » Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:13 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: I might occasionally over-react to some posts of the large Brahms cult's idolatry of their man, but I really do love most of Brahms' works---and even those that I've criticized (or quoted from others) I enjoy listening to occasionally (when I've got the time :wink: ).

Tschüß!
Jack
I'm curious which requiem you find to be the more powerful and compelling: Schumann's op. 148 or Brahms's op. 45?

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Post by Darryl » Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:25 pm

I struggle with the string quartets, but love most else. I've had a hard time finding many recordings of the symphonies I like. The most recent, enjoyable find for me were the Levine/CSO symphonies.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:37 am

Brahms wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: I might occasionally over-react to some posts of the large Brahms cult's idolatry of their man, but I really do love most of Brahms' works---and even those that I've criticized (or quoted from others) I enjoy listening to occasionally (when I've got the time :wink: ).

Tschüß!
Jack
I'm curious which requiem you find to be the more powerful and compelling: Schumann's op. 148 or Brahms's op. 45?
Certainly the Brahms. Religious music wasn't Schumann's forte, although both the Mass, op. 147 and the Requiem, op 148 contain much which is noteworthy, as Sapphire has noted in past threads. Their relative neglect is not justified.

Outside of the 1st movements of the two concerti mentioned earlier, I find all of Brahms' orchestral work enormously satisfying. I also regularly enjoy many of his chamber works, e.g., Piano Quartet No. 1, op. 25 (also in the Schoenberg orchestral version), Sextet in B-Flat, op. 18; Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34; Haydn Variations for 2 pianos, op. 56b, the Violin Sonata in G Major, op. 78 ("Regentropfen") ---all very beautiful and charming works. I love the 2 piano Rhapsodies, op. 79---especially the 1st in b minor. Oh...and the Horn Trio is very fine, too. But---it seems to me---lots of Brahms after the Fourth Symphony (op. 98) is less inspired and lacks the passion and melodic invention of the earlier works. Or maybe I just have to listen to them even more! Sigh! 8)

It's not that there's anything by Brahms that I "dislike"; it's just that his music in general (NOT the symphonies!) just doesn't get to me like J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. In my overall liking he comes around with Haydn and Schubert....and that's good company, too!

I won't quibble. We can all be happy that we have all of these great masters! :D

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

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:40 am

Ooops! Sorry---I accidentally got a "smiley" over Brahms' opus "98"!

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

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by nadej_baptiste » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:23 am

Imperfect Pitch wrote:Is anyone else turned off by this very prominent composer? And, for those who like him, which pieces would you say are most likely to cure someone of their aversion to him? I hate to change the station every time they play Brahms on the radio (which is quite often). Please, clue me in to what I've been missing!
I think Brahms wrote a lot of great music and a lot of not-as-great music. You just have to sort of look for the best, most inspired stuff. I too have been turned off by some of his more tedious works. Also, Brahms is HARD to perform right. There was a lot more rhythmic liberty in his time and his music was sort of intended to breathe organically and not be dotted out in a linear fashion. However that doesn't mean you should over-indulge -- that can make things worse. There's a lot to pay attention to, and some performances can give you the wrong impression of what the music really should be. I suggest trying to find Kleiber conducting his 4th (or the DVD of him doing the 2nd, it's marvelous). Also, just of the top of my head, the 1st piano concerto is amazing (I suggest Peter Serkin/Shaw/Atlanta). Then there's the clarinet quintet (!), the 1st violin sonata, the string quintet # 2, the 1st symphony, quintet for piano/strings in f minor, and the German Requiem (try to find a recording with a LARGE choir -- the effect is otherworldy...it sounds like the entire population of the earth is singing. Amazing). Also, I like the double concerto for violin/cello a thousand times more than the violin concerto. Maybe it's just the way I've heard people play it -- hasty and with an emphasis on virtuosity -- but I think the former is a generally "better" (for lack of a better word) piece.

Of course, there's always the possibility that you simply know what you do and don't like, and to that I say "more power to ya."
--Kamila

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:46 am

nadej_batiste wrote:
Imperfect Pitch wrote:Is anyone else turned off by this very prominent composer? And, for those who like him, which pieces would you say are most likely to cure someone of their aversion to him? I hate to change the station every time they play Brahms on the radio (which is quite often). Please, clue me in to what I've been missing!
I think Brahms wrote a lot of great music and a lot of not-as-great music. You just have to sort of look for the best, most inspired stuff. I too have been turned off by some of his more tedious works. Also, Brahms is HARD to perform right. There was a lot more rhythmic liberty in his time and his music was sort of intended to breathe organically and not be dotted out in a linear fashion. However that doesn't mean you should over-indulge -- that can make things worse. There's a lot to pay attention to, and some performances can give you the wrong impression of what the music really should be. I suggest trying to find Kleiber conducting his 4th (or the DVD of him doing the 2nd, it's marvelous). Also, just of the top of my head, the 1st piano concerto is amazing (I suggest Peter Serkin/Shaw/Atlanta). Then there's the clarinet quintet (!), the 1st violin sonata, the string quintet # 2, the 1st symphony, quintet for piano/strings in f minor, and the German Requiem (try to find a recording with a LARGE choir -- the effect is otherworldy...it sounds like the entire population of the earth is singing. Amazing). Also, I like the double concerto for violin/cello a thousand times more than the violin concerto. Maybe it's just the way I've heard people play it -- hasty and with an emphasis on virtuosity -- but I think the former is a generally "better" (for lack of a better word) piece.

Of course, there's always the possibility that you simply know what you do and don't like, and to that I say "more power to ya."
Now doesn't that just beat all? :o Several of the Brahms works you suggest do less for ME than most of his other works! His Violin Concerto cannot be excelled by any other large, Romantic virtuoso violin concerto (those of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Goldmark, Tschaikowsky and Sibelius---Schumann's doesn't count, it's totally different!).

I guess we're all tuned by a different tuning fork! :?

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

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by nadej_baptiste » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:55 am

Jack Kelso wrote: I guess we're all tuned by a different tuning fork! :?
And that's for the best!
--Kamila

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by nadej_baptiste » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:57 am

nadej_batiste wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: I guess we're all tuned by a different tuning fork! :?
And that's for the best!
Meaning -- we can all learn from other people's opinions! Didn't mean to sound cruel or cold or anything :)
--Kamila

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by Brahms » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: We can all be happy that we have all of these great masters! :D
We agree. :D

However, it would be unfortunate if an innocent reader stumbled upon your aspersions regarding Brahms 1st PC and Double Concerto without the accompanying caveat that your highly subjective conclusions are distinctly in the minority (not to mention that the esteemed Robert Schumann would likely disagree ...... 8) ).

My goal was to provide that caveat ...... :D

nadej_batiste wrote: Also, I like the double concerto for violin/cello a thousand times more than the violin concerto.
Perhaps it's worth pointing out that the medium of a double concerto is many orders of magnitude more challenging (from a compositional standpoint) than a mere single-instrument concerto. Indeed, Beethoven stumbled with his Triple Concerto, and most composers wouldn't even venture down this landmine-laden path fraught with compositional hurdles.

It seems that Mozart (K 364) and JS Bach were among the elite few to achieve absolute perfection with the double-concerto genre ......... While Brahms's Double Concerto may not always reach to the level set by Mozart and Bach, it is a towering achievement worthy of the Brahms name ....... and whatever "flaws" it may exhibit result largely from the intrinsic difficulties with the medium itself .........

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Re: Is anyone else allergic to Brahms?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:57 am

Brahms wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: We can all be happy that we have all of these great masters! :D
We agree. :D

However, it would be unfortunate if an innocent reader stumbled upon your aspersions regarding Brahms 1st PC and Double Concerto without the accompanying caveat that your highly subjective conclusions are distinctly in the minority (not to mention that the esteemed Robert Schumann would likely disagree ...... 8) ).

My goal was to provide that caveat ...... :D

nadej_batiste wrote: Also, I like the double concerto for violin/cello a thousand times more than the violin concerto.
Perhaps it's worth pointing out that the medium of a double concerto is many orders of magnitude more challenging (from a compositional standpoint) than a mere single-instrument concerto. Indeed, Beethoven stumbled with his Triple Concerto, and most composers wouldn't even venture down this landmine-laden path fraught with compositional hurdles.

It seems that Mozart (K 364) and JS Bach were among the elite few to achieve absolute perfection with the double-concerto genre ......... While Brahms's Double Concerto may not always reach to the level set by Mozart and Bach, it is a towering achievement worthy of the Brahms name ....... and whatever "flaws" it may exhibit result largely from the intrinsic difficulties with the medium itself .........
I agree about the difficulties surrounding the composition of double and triple concerti (I also have one by Hummel for piano and violin), but the first movement of the Brahms opus 102 tells ME that he's slowly running out of steam.

Schumann himself never lived to hear Brahms' greatest works---he was just making a calculated guess as to young Johannes' future. Remember that the Schumanns desperately needed a classical Romanticist to carry on Robert's work....and oppose the Liszt/Wagner group, which included Cornelius, Draeseke and others. Brahms was "Johnny on the spot". In a sense, he was already a "great and famous" composer before he composed anything really great!

It's unlikely that my comments on those two Brahms concerti would have any negative effect on young, inexperienced listeners; Brahms is so immensely popular in America and Britain---even for beginners. Even YAHOO! has jumped on the band-wagon with a site called "Brahms the Great"--or Greatest--or something like that, whereas no other composer has that honor (with Yahoo!) :roll: . There is a certain cult status involved here.

In popularity on radio broadcasts and live concerts over here, he's right after Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert and Haydn----AND ahead of Handel and Wagner. As a symphonist he's ranked about even with Schumann and Bruckner.

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

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