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Author Topic: Brahms as a pianist  (Read 9574 times)
presto agitato
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« on: May 28, 2007, 06:52:26 PM »

Please tell everything that you know about him.

I know that he plaled many times Beethovens´s piano concertos 3,4 and 5.


What was his favorite Beethoven Sonata?




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The masterpiece tell the performer what to do, and not the performer telling the piece what it should be like, or the cocomposer what he ought to have composed.

--Alfred Brendel--
the_duck
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 07:01:56 PM »

he was reportedly pretty amazing, and had an incredibly impressive debut concert tour. at one of his first concerts he was set to play his 3rd (i think) sonata but found the piano to be almost a semitone out of tune, so he transposed the whole thing up a semitone by ear without any problem. he also did the same with beethoven's kreutzer sonata. he hated practicing and hardly prepared for most of his concerts. he played his 2nd concerto in his 60s having barely touched a piano in years. in terms of his playing style, i've read that he played quite forcefully but also without sentimentality. in fact there is an incredibly sketchy recording of him playing one of his waltzes from the 1880s or 90s, but the quality is so bad that you can barely make out the sound of the piano over all the crackling. still, pretty mindboggling that there is any record of his playing!

that's about as much as i can recall from the top of my head!
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pianistimo
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 07:17:31 PM »

i would speculate that brahms would have liked beethoven's 9th violin sonata the best.  the 'kreutzer.'  that is because brahms liked to make his phrasing sound like that of the violin or voice.  you can listen to this masterpiece if you google 'beethoven's 9th violin sonata' and then listen under wikipedia's recording.

somehow, i always think of brahms as 'holding in his feelings' while at the same time writing the most emotional music a composer ever has.  his german requiem is so amazingly taunt and yet spills over this lovely melodiousness that beethoven, mendelssohn, schubert, and schumann had.  with him - it just goes on forever. 

Hugo Leichtentritt (whoever he is) gave a lecture at harvard and said this: 'bach is his great-grandfather, mozart and beethoven are his two grandfathers.  schubert is his uncle.  mendelssohn is his elder cousin, and robert schumann is his father.'

if i remember right - brahms was somewhat self-taught as a pianist and used to 'hang out' at the schumann household both as a youth and in his later life.  i'm sure he picked up some tips from clara - and robert probably discussed composition ideas with him.  schumann probably remembered how hard he had it - to make a breakthrough with clara's father mr wieck - and robert schumann was not hardened towards young brahms when he made his first entreaty for whatever it was.  whether lessons or friendship or whatever.  i can't remember how they first met.  despite the growing awareness that schumann had over brahms adoration of clara - i think he truly accepted brahms and never troubled his thoughts over him.  it seems that these musicians found ways to relate to each other through their music.  floristan and eusebius took on a hidden meaning that was both two sides of robert's personality - and also distinctly robert and johannes.
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klavierkonzerte
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 11:34:52 PM »

whether lessons or friendship or whatever.  i can't remember how they first met. 

the great violinist joseph jaochim introduced them to each others.
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elevateme_returns
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 12:17:51 AM »

theres recordings of brahms talking and playing his pieces somewhere , its so crackly though
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elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."
pianistimo
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 11:20:38 AM »

thanks, klavierkoncerte.  i could never stand and give a lecture about any composer for long.  too many memory failures.  but, i do love to read biographies.  the more you read, the more sticks. 

i vaguely remember something (and seeing) about the housing 'project' where brahms grew up.  how he would witness drunks and prostitutes and probably decided as he was growing up to avoid that kind of lifestyle - even though he was asked at young age to play for places that didn't have much of a repute.  his father was 24 and his mother was 41.  perhaps this was a partial cause for a split.  his father used to play at dance-halls, too.  brahms was a very attractive young boy with fairly long blond hair and blue eyes.  he was tall and thin and had a high voice. almost like a girl - from what has been said.  later he turned pudgy.  he liked to smoke a pipe didn't he? 

brahms was unusual in that he was probably thinking like an adult at 16-17 years of age or younger.  to me, much like rachmaninov.  he wasn't the typical - let's go party.  he had a seriousness to himself and his music.  almost like he knew he would discover the salk vaccine (just kidding) of music.  what i think he discovered was chordal harmonies that could combine with a certain length of melody.  exactly what bach had done so many years ago. if there was ever 'another' bach - it was brahms.
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presto agitato
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 01:51:15 PM »

It is true that he played Liszt´s Sonara at first sight?
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The masterpiece tell the performer what to do, and not the performer telling the piece what it should be like, or the cocomposer what he ought to have composed.

--Alfred Brendel--
thalbergmad
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 06:39:54 PM »

It is true that he played Liszt´s Sonara at first sight?

I thought that it was Liszt who played Brahms Sonata at first sight.

Perhaps he returned the compliment?

Thal
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dnephi
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2007, 09:36:16 PM »

No, he did not.

By the way, according to my records he was nothing more than a mediocre pianist past his early years, in which he was a fine, but far from stellar, pianist.  He claimed after a 2nd concerto performance that it was so bad because he had "better things to do than practice 3 hours a day."

Perhaps you would all be better off by checking the old library.

Dan
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For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)
ramseytheii
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2007, 10:58:23 PM »

No, he did not.

By the way, according to my records he was nothing more than a mediocre pianist past his early years, in which he was a fine, but far from stellar, pianist.  He claimed after a 2nd concerto performance that it was so bad because he had "better things to do than practice 3 hours a day."

Perhaps you would all be better off by checking the old library.

Dan

I think you're right about the later years, but I read somewhere about his playing as a young pianist, I remember the phrase exactly, "He displayed all the hallmarks of genius."  It wasn't from Schumann, it was from someone related to the Liszt school.  Unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember where I read it, I checked Music Anecdotes, Wagner autobiography, Schumann biography.  It must be in one of Liszt's students reminisciences. 

About the above anecdote, Liszt played Brahm's scherzo in E-flat minor (inspired by Chopin) at first sight, from the manuscript, all the while giving a commentary of the piece as he read it.  Liszt then apparently played his sonata, and Brahms promptly fell asleep.

Walter Ramsey
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webern78
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2007, 12:38:00 PM »

No, he did not.

By the way, according to my records he was nothing more than a mediocre pianist past his early years, in which he was a fine, but far from stellar, pianist.  He claimed after a 2nd concerto performance that it was so bad because he had "better things to do than practice 3 hours a day."

Perhaps you would all be better off by checking the old library.

Dan

Indeed.
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