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Reducing a Hostess to Tears

Donald Macleod describes how Brahms reduced a society hostess to tears for owning 'Wagnerian trash'. Including Sommerabend, Symphony No 2 (1st mvt), Violin Concerto (2nd 3rd mvts).

Johannes Brahms reduces a society hostess to tears for owning 'Wagnerian trash'. Presented by Donald Macleod

German composer Johannes Brahms became a significant figure in Western music during his own lifetime, and has retained this position ever since. His works were performed throughout Europe, the UK and the USA, and displayed much passion in keeping with the musical language of the mid to late nineteenth century. Donald Macleod this week explores some of the larger orchestral works Brahms composed, taking on the mantle from Beethoven and Schubert, and the periods in which they were written. The series includes the First Piano Concerto, his German Requiem, concertos for violin, and for violin and cello, and also his third and fourth symphonies.

During the late 1870s Brahms premiered his First Symphony, and then at lightning speed composed his second. It was around this same time that Brahms was aiding the impoverished Bohemian composer Dvorak, supporting his case for a scholarship and also recommending him to publishers. Brahms could also be amazingly unfeeling at times, and reduced one society hostess to tears when he publicly searched her cupboards for what he called "Wagnerian Trash". By 1878 Brahms was also busy writing a work for his friend the violinist Joachim. The two collaborated together on what became Brahms's Violin Concerto. The premiere didn't go well and Brahms subsequently destroyed a draft of a second violin concerto he'd made.

Sommerabend, Op 85 No 1
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Symphony No 2 in D major, Op 73 (1st mvt)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Rattle, conductor

Klavierstücke, Op 76 (Nos 2, 4-5, 7-8)
Justus Frantz, piano

Violin Concerto in D major, Op 77 (2nd and 3rd mvt)
Gidon Kremer, violin
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nicolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Johannes Brahms

    Sommerabend, Op. 85 No. 1

    Performer: Daniel Barenboim. Performer: Olena Tokar. Performer: Igor Gryshyn. Singer: Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau.
    • EMI: 7648202.
    • 9.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Symphony No. 2 In D major Op.73 - 1st movement; Allegro non troppo

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI 2672542.
    • EMI.
    • 1.
  • Johannes Brahms

    8 Pieces Op.76 - 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8

    Performer: Justus Frantz.
    • Teldec 843687.
    • Teldec.
    • 6.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Concerto In D major Op.77 - 2nd movement; Adagio

    Performer: Gidon Kremer. Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
    • Teldec 0630131372.
    • Teldec.
    • 2.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Concerto In D major Op.77 - 3rd movement; Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace

    Performer: Gidon Kremer. Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
    • Teldec 0630131372.
    • Teldec.
    • 2.

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