Johannes Brahms

by Brian H.

A favorite composer

I have enjoyed listening to music by composer Johannes Brahms for many years now. I can trace this love of Brahms’s music back to a music library collection in my family home.  It was my mother’s doing I’m sure. She loved music and made certain we all had musical experiences in our lives. There was a TimeLife set of music recordings that my mother enjoyed listening to. This set included a box of records with music by Brahms and it had a recording of his violin concerto performed by Jascha Heifetz.


Glaring gender inequality

Okay, the whole concept of a series entitled Great Men of Music is an extremely glaring example of things gone awry in the music world regarding gender equality. But my mission in this blog post is to highlight the music of Brahms.  And I can’t get a do over on the whole of western musical history.  I can include a few links to articles that I read as I was working on this blog post that engage in the conversation about women in classical music.  And I will include this quote that is quite telling:

“When it comes to concert music, we may be engaging with the only profession that actively discriminates against the living in favor of the dead. But even within that living minority, the numbers from a 2014-15 orchestral survey are a devastating embarrassment by any stretch of the imagination.”

“The artistic leadership of the 21 largest American orchestras have collectively programmed their seasons in such a way that women composers accounted for 1.8 percent of the overall season.” Mohammed Fairouz deceptive cadence from NPR Classical

Women Are Great Composers Too, Why Aren’t They Being Heard?

Female composers are making great strides. The classical music world isn’t helping them.

13 graphs that show the alarming gender inequality in US orchestras today


Back to Brahms and my mother’s musical influence

It was my mother that wanted me to learn the violin. She handed down her grandfather’s violin to me and her love of music.  I latched on to that violin recording of hers and nearly wore it out.  Maybe the Mozart violin concerto album in the Mozart set got a bit more playing than the Brahms.  But they were the two records I played over and over from this series.  And the Brahms violin concerto recording made a lasting impression on me.

I learned about the nuances of Brahms’s musical language from that recording. This introduction into his musical world set me on a path to discover all of the music he composed and into learning about his life.  Much of this path of discovery took place in the music libraries of both the university and conservatory I attended and in the public libraries where I have continue to learn about Brahms and people who influenced him and whom he influenced with his music.

So from my mother’s musical library…. to the musical education I pursued… to my continuing education over the years in public libraries – my love of Brahms’s music has flourished.  Here are some selected works for you to sample in YouTube. You will find recordings of these works in Sno-Isle Libraries CD collection.







3 responses to “Johannes Brahms”

  1. RickeyB says:

    As a clarinetist, I am biased toward the Clarinet Quintet (Op. 115) as my favorite piece of Brahms’, but this Heifetz recording is so amazing that I might change that to the violin concerto!

  2. Erin L. says:

    As a chorale singer I cherish the experience of being able to sing the Brahms Requiem or “German Requiem”. We sang it in English as our conductor read a quote from Brahms that said he wished he would have named it the “People’s Requiem” as that was his intention. he wanted the people to hear it in their native language (German for him) not in Latin as was the norm. And he used not the text from the traditional Mass but text from the German Luther bible. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience to sing this piece so it is my favorite.

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