Brahms - Piano Music

Johannes Brahms

Brahms is a composer who explores profound emotional depths, both in the monumental sonatas of his youth and in the gentle miniatures of his old age. But the power of his music also lies in its magnificent architecture and sense of development. His streak of nostalgic sadness came partly from thwarted love, and partly from his sense of being alone in upholding the Classical tradition. Thus, already his contemporaries spoke of the “three great B:s” - meaning Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

Top Pieces:

Intermezzo in E-flat Major, Op. 117 No. 1

The tender, dreamy main theme of this Intermezzo sounds like something a parent could sing for a child at bedtime.

Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118 No. 2

This lyrical, moving, nocturne-like Intermezzo pulls us into a world of dreamy nostalgia and quiet longing. It sways tenderly like a lullaby, with the typical Brahmsian sophisticated web of inner voices.

Rhapsody in G Minor, Op. 79 No. 2

This Big Romantic Piece has it all: a tragic but proud mood, sweeping gestures, mysterious harmonies, and shattering climaxes.

Hungarian Dance 5 - solo piano version

Already as a teenager, Brahms was fascinated by the music of the Roma people. When he published his brilliant arrangements of Roma tunes, the success was immediate and phenomenal.

Piano Concerto 1 in D Minor, Op. 15

This gigantic and powerful work drew its sad inspiration from the attempted suicide of Brahms' friend Robert Schumann. The music veers between cataclysmic outbursts and soothing, dreamlike passages, until the finale emerges confidently into the sunlight.


There are many stories of Johannes Brahms´s (1833-1897) prickliness, sarcasm and tactlessness – but it would be equally true to describe him as a generous and kind man. Achieving considerable wealth in later years, he never spent it on himself, but helped his family as well as younger composers. A voracious reader throughout his life, he ended up with a well-used library of over 800 titles including poetry, fiction, drama, history, art, philosophy, religion and travel. Growing up in simple circumstances, Brahms gave piano lessons and played popular music at private gatherings and in restaurants. All youthful efforts to compose fell victim to his intense self-scrutiny. A turning point came in 1853 when Brahms met Robert and Clara Schumann. Robert hailed Brahms as the true musician of the future in a famous essay ("Neue Bahnen") of the same year. After Robert´s nervous breakdown and suicide attempt Brahms gave up everything he was doing to assist Clara, developing a strong romantic passion for her, while she probably viewed him more as a devoted son.

When Robert died Brahms and Clara went their separate ways, nevertheless remaining the closest of friends. Brahms went through a period of depression and low productivity, but renewed studies of counterpoint and early music enabled a glorious comeback in the 1860s with a series of chamber works (incl. string sextets, piano quintet, piano quartets) and piano pieces (Handel variations and Paganini variations). The critical acclaim of his German Requiem, written after his mother’s death, established Brahms as a major composer, but he still struggled to master the string quartet and the symphony. Not until he was 40 did he complete the first two quartets (Op. 51) that he considered worthy of publication; three years later came the Symphony no.1 in C minor, which had occupied him for at least fifteen years.

A steady stream of mature orchestral works followed, among them three more symphonies and the second piano concerto. By 1890 Brahms was ready to retire from composing, but meeting the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld started a surge of creativity that enriched the repertory for that instrument remarkably, with two sonatas (Op.120), one trio (Op. 114) and one quintet (Op.115). In his later years Brahms condensed his musical thought almost to the extreme. Examples of this compact and forward-looking style are the piano pieces Opp. 116-119, and the last piece Brahms published, Vier ernste Gesänge, written in connection with the death of Clara Schumann.

Quotes by Brahms

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”

“It is not hard to compose, but what is fabulously hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table.”

“If there is anyone here I have failed to insult, I beg his pardon”

Quotes about Brahms

“I can truly say, my children, that I have never loved a friend as I loved him; it is the most beautiful mutual understanding of two souls. I do not love him for his youthfulness, nor probably for any reason of flattered vanity. It is rather his elasticity of spirit, his fine gifted nature, his noble heart that I love” (Clara Schumann)

"He is the most wanton of composers [...] Only his wantonness is not vicious; it is that of a great baby [...] rather tiresomely addicted to dressing himself up as Handel or Beethoven and making a prolonged and intolerable noise."(George Bernard Shaw)

Brahms Piano Sheet Music

for digital devices or to download & print

Total pieces by Brahms: 158

TitleKey YearLevel

Most popular pieces:

Intermezzo Op. 117 No. 1E-flat Major 18928
Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2A Major 18938+
Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2G Minor 18808
Hungarian Dance 5 - solo piano version F-sharp Minor 18728+
Piano Concerto 1 Op. 15D Minor 18598+

All pieces:


Piano Concerto 1 Op. 15D Minor 18598+
Piano Concerto 2 Op. 83B-flat Major 18818+


Sonata 1 Op. 1C Major 18538+
Sonata 2 Op. 2F-sharp Minor 18538+
Sonata 3 Op. 5F Minor 18548+


Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann Op. 9F-sharp Minor 18548+
Theme and Variations Op. 18 bD Minor 18558
Variations on an Original Theme Op. 21 No. 1D Major 18578+
Variations on a Hungarian Song Op. 21 No. 2D Major 18568+
Variations on a Theme by R Schumann - for four hands Op. 23E-flat Major 18638+
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel Op. 24B-flat Major 18618+
Paganini Variations - Book 1 Op. 35A Minor 18668+
Paganini Variations - Book 2 Op. 35A Minor 18668+
Variations on a Theme by Haydn - for two pianos Op. 56 bB-flat Major 18738+

Hungarian Dances (four hands)

Hungarian Dance 1 G Minor 18698
Hungarian Dance 2 D Minor 18698+
Hungarian Dance 3 F Major 18698
Hungarian Dance 4 F Minor 18698
Hungarian Dance 5 F-sharp Minor 18698
Hungarian Dance 6 D-flat Major 18698
Hungarian Dance 7 A Major 18697
Hungarian Dance 8 A Minor 18698
Hungarian Dance 9 E Minor 18697
Hungarian Dance 10 E Major 18698+
Hungarian Dance 11 D Minor 18808
Hungarian Dance 12 D Minor 18808+
Hungarian Dance 13 D Major 18808
Hungarian Dance 14 D Minor 18808+
Hungarian Dance 15 B-flat Major 18808+
Hungarian Dance 16 F Minor 18807
Hungarian Dance 17 F-sharp Minor 18808
Hungarian Dance 18 D Major 18808
Hungarian Dance 19 B Minor 18808+
Hungarian Dance 20 E Minor 18808
Hungarian Dance 21 E Minor 18808+

Hungarian Dances (solo piano)

Hungarian Dance 1 - solo piano version G Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 2 - solo piano version D Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 3 - solo piano version F Major 18728+
Hungarian Dance 4 - solo piano version F-sharp Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 5 - solo piano version F-sharp Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 6 - solo piano version D-flat Major 18728+
Hungarian Dance 7 - solo piano version F Major 18728+
Hungarian Dance 8 - solo piano version A Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 9 - solo piano version E Minor 18728+
Hungarian Dance 10 - solo piano version E Major 18728+

Four Ballades Op. 10

1. Ballade D Minor 18548
2. Ballade D Major 18548
3. Ballade B Minor 18548
4. Ballade B Major 18548

Waltzes (four hands) Op. 39

1. Waltz B Major 18675
2. Waltz E Major 18675
3. Waltz G-sharp Minor 18674
4. Waltz E Minor 18675
5. Waltz E Major 18675
6. Waltz C-sharp Major 18676
7. Waltz E Major 18675
8. Waltz B-flat Major 18675
9. Waltz D Minor 18673
10. Waltz G Major 18674
11. Waltz D Major 18675
12. Waltz E Major 18674
13. Waltz C Major 18676
14. Waltz C Major 18676
15. Waltz A Major 18675
16. Waltz D Minor 18674

Waltzes (solo piano) Op. 39

1. Waltz B Major 18657
2. Waltz E Major 18656
3. Waltz G-sharp Minor 18656
4. Waltz E Minor 18657
5. Waltz E Major 18656
6. Waltz C-sharp Major 18656
7. Waltz E Major 18656
8. Waltz B-flat Major 18656
9. Waltz D Minor 18655
10. Waltz G Major 18655
11. Waltz D Major 18656
12. Waltz E Major 18657
13. Waltz B Major 18657
14. Waltz G-sharp Minor 18657
15. Waltz A-flat Major 18656
16. Waltz C-sharp Minor 18656

Liebeslieder Waltzes Op. 52

1. Waltz - for four hands E Major 18694
2. Waltz - for four hands A Minor 18694
3. Waltz - for four hands A Major 18694
4. Waltz - for four hands F Major 18693
5. Waltz - for four hands A Minor 18693
6. Waltz - for four hands A Major 18695
7. Waltz - for four hands A-flat Major 18694
8. Waltz - for four hands A-flat Major 18695
9. Waltz - for four hands E Major 18695
10. Waltz - for four hands G Major 18694
11. Waltz - for four hands C Minor 18695
12. Waltz - for four hands E-flat Major 18694
13. Waltz - for four hands A-flat Major 18693
14. Waltz - for four hands E-flat Major 18693
15. Waltz - for four hands A-flat Major 18695
16. Waltz - for four hands F Minor 18694
17. Waltz - for four hands D-flat Major 18694
18. Waltz - for four hands D-flat Major 18695

New Liebeslieder Waltzes Op. 65

1. Waltz - for four hands A Minor 18773
2. Waltz - for four hands A Minor 18773
3. Waltz - for four hands A Major 18773
4. Waltz - for four hands D Minor 18772
5. Waltz - for four hands D Minor 18773
6. Waltz - for four hands F Major 18773
7. Waltz - for four hands C Major 18774
8. Waltz - for four hands E-flat Major 18774
9. Waltz - for four hands G Minor 18773
10. Waltz - for four hands G Major 18774
11. Waltz - for four hands G Major 18775
12. Waltz - for four hands G Minor 18775
13. Waltz - for four hands E Major 18775
14. Waltz - for four hands A Minor 18775
15. Ending - for four hands F Major 18775

Eight Pieces Op. 76

1. Capriccio F-sharp Minor 18788+
2. Capriccio B Minor 18788+
3. Intermezzo A-flat Major 18788+
4. Intermezzo B-flat Major 18788+
5. Capriccio C-sharp Minor 18788+
6. Intermezzo A Major 18788+
7. Intermezzo A Minor 18787
8. Capriccio C Major 18788+

Two Rhapsodies Op. 79

1. Rhapsody B Minor 18808+
2. Rhapsody G Minor 18808

Fantasies Op. 116

1. Capriccio D Minor 18928+
2. Intermezzo A Minor 18928+
3. Capriccio G Minor 18928+
4. Intermezzo E Major 18928
5. Intermezzo E Minor 18928
6. Intermezzo E Major 18928
7. Capriccio D Minor 18928

Three Intermezzi Op. 117

1. Intermezzo E-flat Major 18928
2. Intermezzo B-flat Minor 18928
3. Intermezzo C-sharp Minor 18928

Six Pieces Op. 118

1. Intermezzo A Minor 18938+
2. Intermezzo A Major 18938+
3. Ballade G Minor 18938+
4. Intermezzo F Minor 18938+
5. Romance F Major 18938+
6. Intermezzo E-flat Minor 18938+

Four Pieces Op. 119

1. Intermezzo B Minor 18938+
2. Intermezzo E Minor 18938+
3. Intermezzo C Major 18938+
4. Rhapsody E-flat Major 18938+

Piano Studies

Study - after Impromptu Op 90 No 2 by Schubert E-flat Major 18718+
51 Piano Exercises N/A 18938
Study 1 - after an Etude by Chopin F Minor 18698+
Study 2 - after a Rondo by Weber C Major 18698+
Study 3 - after a Presto by Bach (1st version) G Minor 18798+
Study 4 - after a Presto by Bach (2nd version) G Minor 18798+
Study 5 - after a Chaconne by Bach (for left hand only) D Minor 18798+

Miscellaneous pieces

Albumblatt A Minor 18536
Two Gigues N/A 18558
Two Sarabandes N/A 18557
Transcription - of a Gavotte by Gluck A Major 18718+
Scherzo Op. 4E-flat Minor 18548+
Piano Quintet Op. 34F Minor 18648+
Sonata - for two pianos Op. 34 bF Minor 18718+

Forum posts about Johannes Brahms

Brahms Piano Works by liszthalberg
Which sheet music edition of Brahms is THE most faithful to the intentions of the composer, for ALL of his piano works? I know there are lik...

A Year on One Composer by brogers70
Has anybody here experimented with devoting a full year to just one composer? This is not something I'd do if I were just beginning, bu...

Composers born or who lived in Viena by chechig
Hi everyone. Many great composers through history were born or lived in Viena, like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Bortkiewicz, Chopin...

Re: Brahms as a pianist by pianistimo
i would speculate that brahms would have liked beethoven's 9th violin sonata the best.  the 'kreutzer.'  that is be...

for the brahms lovers! by tanasha
if you're obsessed with brahms then you should be somewhat happy to know that i'm starting to get into his music! like before i wa...

Elements of Scottish folk music in works of Brahms! by pianowelsh
Hi It is much talked about that Brahms was profoundly influenced by the scottish folk literature such as 'Edward ballade' and obvi...

Brahms-works need large hands? by juliuskrause
in my last piano lesson i talked with my teacher about my oppinion to the Brahms Sonatas I like them very much - he told me: 'especiall...