The Romantic Era - goes to ... ... freelance composers !!!
The Classical Era held the stage in the last half of the eighteenth century
. As the early decades of the nineteenth century passed
, a new style was becoming apparent in Europe. Many composers left the court to pursue virtuosic performance in the public concert hall.
Social and political upheavals following the French Revolution formed the character of the romanticist
. The romanticists rebelled against the conventional methods of their predecessors and seeked new ways of expression
. From their side, they were generating a unique style that empasized feeling and emotion with no bounds or constraints to the musical form
. It's agreed upon that Beethoven
, in his later years
, started the Romatic Era
, as he was the first to put more emphasis on expression than form, although many popular critics banished his change in style in his 3rd compositional period.
By the Mid-nineteenth century, the romantic movement was well under way
- its spirit shone through-out Europe as writers and poets such as Heine
, and Hugo embraced the idea of a freedom that would allow their indiviuality to inspire and dominate their output
. Unlike the eighteenth-century musicians whom served as "inferior" entertainers to the nobility
, many nineteeth-century musicians wrote and performed for the public, acting as their own patrons.
Their lives set to the stage, they were eventually idolized as stars.
Composers re-wrote existing forms and had a renewed interest in folklore and exoticism. The concert hall, the salon, the public opera house
aided a growing popularity for miniature sets, nocturnes, waltzes, character pieces, and operas buffa.
They also experimented with larger orchestras, new instruments, like the tuba, and improved instruments (ie the more versatile piano).
Brahms was a traditionalist, though his music contains both classical and romantic era elements.
. His symphonies are almost classical in form
, but make use of harmony and melodic themes associated to the early romantic era, while hiw piano works are mostly romantic
. His best known works are his symphonies
, and his German Requiem
. His lyric pieces
, and capriccios are also piano masterpieces
. In his lifetime
, Brahms produced over two hundred songs and lieder
, as well as a large violin reperetoire
Brahms also developed many compositional techniques such as drift versus drive that were well studied and incorporated
The Nineteenth-century Song(The Lied) and Piano Piece
The Romantic Era
, with help from the French and English Revolution
, brought the means to create cheaper and better intruments
. Cast-iron frames were introduced to the piano, as well as strings capable of withstanding much more tension
, making the piano more effective and affordable
. Piano music from Brahms
, and Liszt
differed from Beethoven as Beethoven's did from Bach not only due to new styles but also because it was composed for improved instruments.
Now very affordable
, pianos became quite popular among the third estate (middle class).
Musicians started soloing for friends and guests in their own homes (such was customary of Chopin), leading to the introduction of
a new form of piece short enough to hold their attention for just that purpose
. The Lied
, lyric poetry set to piano accompanyment
, became the central attraction for composers of the 19th century
. German for song, Lieder (plural for Lied) were so popular in the middle class for one apparent reason
: everyone could appreciate the same idea or story that was told to them
; there was no mystery behind the composers motive or how the piece should have been interpreted, since the text was clearly sung.
The popularity of the piano led to many improvements for itself and its ultimante development into the modern concert grand piano
. At the same time, the rise of the virtuoso solo pianist led to the formation of song equivalents
: the short lyric piano pieces
. Composers adopted fanciful titles - the most popular being prelude
, intermezzo (interlude)
, impromptu (on the spur of the moment)
, mazurka (short form polish dance first presented by Chopin)
, polonaise (long form polish dance)
, Hungarian Rhapsody (first presented by Liszt)
, and so on.
Brahms' Lieder and Other Piano Works
Brahms composed for an astounding range
. From an early stage
, he wrote a Scherzo
- Opus 4
, and three sonatas
- Opus 1
, and 5
; the first of which (in C Major) so impressed Robert and Clara Schumann that they claimed there was an overwhelming sense of the young composer taking on the world
. Variations were a Classical form that long fascinated Brahms
; he composed The Variations On A Theme by Robert Schumann
- Opus 9
, The Variations On A Hungarian Song
- Opus 21/2 (1856)
, The Variations On An Own Theme
- Opus 21/1 (1857)
, The Handel Variations
- Opus 24 (1861)
, and the difficult Paganini Variations
- op 35 (1862-63)
, in which he shadowed the style of the Virtuoso Liszt
. Today this work is often compared with Bach's Goldbergs and Beethoven's Diabellis
During this earlier period, Brahms also composed the ballads of Opus 10
. Some of his shorter works include his Intermezzi
, and Fantasies
, (which are thematically free)
. These are considered to be some of Brahms's most characteristic works for piano
. They owe much to the musical inspiration of Chopin
, Robert Schumann
, and Schubert
. Most of them were published in sets
, and of which seem to be unified by their motive
, and even key
. In his years
, he brought these short forms to a new level of eloquence and expression.
The first Intermezzo of Opus 118 holds the very essence of Brahms's unmistakable sound
Brahms' love for literature self-manifested into a huge output of songs
, which span almost the whole of his compositional career
: nearly 200 solo songs
, 25 duets
, 27 quartets
, over 100 'folk' songs
, and a number of vocal canons
. His Lieder alone were composed during a span of more than fourty years
, and are generally descended from the style of Schubert and Robert Schumann
. Among the best known are the song Wie Melodien zieht es mir (Opus 105)
, and of much more serious nature (in the name)
, his final masterpieces the Four Serious Songs (based on biblical texts
, and preoccupied with death and its transfiguration through love - maybe influenced by every single (one single) German opera plot he ever had to endure?!?
In the end, he just couldn't resist huh?
The Romantic Symphony
The nineteeth-century absolute form of music ("pure music") was the preferred alternative to program music for the significantly sized group of musicians who
believed music should be abstract and not be associated with any one idea or plot-line. For this group,
music was supposed to be "pure" and therefore couldn't be associated with plot elements
that involved mortal concepts like love and jealousy, or material things like money (or really any physical thing like a shoe or a box).
( Of course, program music, which was linked to a story, scene, mood, or written for performance during a play, did do very well if not better (Berlioz, Liszt ......). )
One of the larger forms of absolute music was the full-scale symphony
. The Romantic symphony
, like its predecessor from the Classical period
, was a large work for the orchestra containing several movements (parts)
. Each differed in mood, tempo, even theme
. Since the nineteeth century
, the performing stage moved from palace hall to concert hall
, orchestras grew in size and variety
. This led the Romantic Symphony, or Modern Symphony to comprise of four movements by definition - usually longer and more regurgitated(usually in a good way) than the Classical Symphony.
The first movement is almost always in Allegro
, and is thus called Sonata-Allegro form (some consider it a developed form of rounded binary)
, the same form as sonata first movements
. Three sections
, the bridged exposition
, and recapitulation make up the body of the movement
. There is sometimes an introduction or a codetta (ending) at the end
. In the exposition
, the two main themes
, or subjects are presented in order of tonic then modulated foreign keys.
. They provide the basis and contrast for the entire piece, and sometimes carry on to other movements.
. The first is always in the home key, the base tonality of the movement as well as the piece
, while the second will be in a contrasting key (In the major dominant V if the movement is in a major key
, and in the relative major
, the major mediant III if the movement is in a minor key)
A tonic major to the tonic minor sequence, or vice versa, was also somewhat used.
There is sometimes a bridge (transition) section between the two subjects that serves to elaborate or smoothen the transition into a new key.
The exposition is usually repeated, followed by
,in which the subjects or fragments from the subjects (motives) in the exposition can be developed and expanded
Completely new material may be introduced
, or a combination of fragments may be used
The development often serves as a climax - typically, an increase in tension is created by frequent modulation.
Since the development usually concludes in the tonic key, where the recap begins, it anticipates the end
with the dominant preparation - a statement in the major dominant
which is necessary to prepare for the return of the home key (dominant is usually used as a preparation progression in modulation) .
The recapitulation begins with the first subject from the exposition in the home key (sometimes exactly as it was)
. Then comes the second subject from the exposition
; the main difference is that it's now in the home key (again the melody could be exactly the same as before, just modulated)
. The codetta ends the recapitulation section as well as the movement
, and is also in the home key.
The codetta may be replaced by a coda
, which is usually the more elaborate/long-winded ending of an entire piece
, not a movement
The second movement almost always contrasts the first in tempo and key
. It's usually much slower (often Largo
, or Andante) and sets a new mood
. It may be in ternary (A, B, A) form
, rounded binary (A, B, A1) form
, or in theme and variations form
. For Brahms
, it was often the most difficult movement to write.
The third movement is a Scherzo
, italian for jest
. This movement is very energetic because the strong rhythms and occasional use of folklore gives it a quick and light beat
. The movement is usually in an A, B, A form in triple meter.
The closing fourth movement
either imitates the style of the first movement or contrasts it
. The mood of this movement really just varies from symphony to symphony
Brahms the Symphonist
Brahms did not attempt to write a symphony until he was past the age of forty
. He considered Beethoven the key figure in nineteenth-century music
, and was very intimidated by his symphonic triumphs
. As he was working on his first symphony during the early seventies
, he wrote to his friend
, the conductor Hermann Levi:
"I will never compose a symphony! You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us
The years in which Brahms concerned himself with the structural form of the symphony occupied an entire decade
. Brahms' first attempts at the symphony date from the early-fifties
. He did however rejected his composition drafts again and again
, and by the end of his life
, Brahms had destroyed most of his preparatory and draft works
. Today, it's nearly impossible to duplicate his course and process of composition
We do know that Brahms spent years perfecting single movements and symphonies as a whole
. He was occupied on and off for twenty so years with the First Symphony
, starting in 1855
. In 1876
, before the completion of the composition
, Brahms set the date for its first performance:
, with conductor Otto Dessoff of Karlsruhe
After he awed the crowed with the First Symphony (Opus 68 in c minor)
, a serious resolution
, he pursued the following symphonies in a relatively short time
- the second following almost immediately
. In June 1877
, he started working on the Second Symphony(Opus 73 in D major) in Pörtschach am Wörthersee
. The first movement was finished in September
, and three months later the entire symphony was completed
As opposed to the first symphony, the D major is a calmer piece, and considered the greater achievement by Brahms.
All movements are connected from their opening themes
, and recomposed into the Finale.
. On December 30th
, it was performed for the first time in Viennan by conductor Hans Richter
Completed six years later during a summer stay in Wiesbaden,
the Third Symphony in F major (Opus 90) premiered on December 1883 in Vienna.
The first movement opens with a three-note motive that is often related to Brahms's personal motto
: "Frei aber froh" (free but happy)
. This theme is repeated and elaborated throughout the entire movement
. The second is an Andante
, the third a three-part (A, B, A)
, and the last
, a dramatic ending in sonata-allegro form with quick alternations of mood
. The first performance was followed by another four weeks later in Berlin, with Joseph Joachim conducting
Brahms completed his fourth symphony (Opus 98 in e minor) on October 25th 1885 during the summer stays 1884 and 1885 in Mürzzuschlag on Semmering
Bearing a tragic character
, it is the only one of the four to have a Beethoven-style Scherzo
. The variative technique which he developed in several earlier works,
a technique based on the Baroque passacaglia (a short melody progression repeated over and over against a changing background),
also determined the thematic work in his symphonic music.
The finale of his Fourth Symphony is a large-scale succession of variations about an ostinato bass (theme and thirty coherent variations)
. Brahms himself conducted the first performance in Meiningen with the court orchestra of Meiningen
, and since 1881
, he worked time and again with this excellent orchestra.
In addition to incorporating many Classical forms and techniques of composition and performance into his symphonies
, Brahms enlarged the Classical orchestra with trombones, double bassoons, and the occasional bass tuba, producing an unmistakable "Brahms quality"
Romantic Choral Music
The nineteeth-century amateur musician provided an enormous yet growing audience to choral singing
. This popular group activity required much less skill than playing solo or in an orchestra
. Even those who had no musical experience or those who couldn't afford instruments loved the idea that
they could participate in music making without leaving their careers. Anyone with a modest voice was welcome.
, originally a religious form of music intended for performance in the church
, was now also sung as a social event in the concert hall
. Among the large-scale forms were the Mass (service of the Roman Catholic Church)
, Requiem (Mass for the deceased)
, and the Oratorio (based on religious text, for specific occasions)
. These were usually a combination of solo voices
, and orchestra
. Short secular pieces
, known as part songs (with three or four parts/voices)
, became very popular since they were easy to learn
. Though it might've taken little effort for any singer to voice through many other voices singing differnt texts at once,
the challenge of choral music was in the listening - the mixed choral text (sometimes in different languages) made it very difficult to distinguish and understand.
Brahms and Choral Music
The most crucial work in Brahms's chorus output is A German Requiem
. The German Requiem is a mass for the living moreso than for the dead
. Sung in Protestant tradition
, it aims to console the beparted to accept death as an inevitable part of their lives.
Rebirth, transcendence, and afterlife are common themes, though Brahms did not choose to include all these elements.
Based on biblical texts that Brahms chose from the Old and New testaments (instead of Catholic Latin)
, A German Requiem avoids declaration of faith in resurrection
, since Brahms was not religious
Brahms began its composition after the death of his mother
, which followed the death of his teacher and friend
, Robert Schumann
. Brahms first composed four movements
, then added the fifth and then two more to complete seven movements
. The first and last movements are connected
, as well as the second and sixth
, and the third and fifth
, leaving the fourth as the "central masterpiece"
. The piece is a rondo (of form A, B, A 1, C, A 1)
, and is one of Brahms's best know choral works
, the Concerto required constant revision
. Brahms's First Serenade
, the longest of his orchestral works
, started out as a nonet (the Piano Quintet was initially a string quintet with piano and the Piano Concerto started as a symphony with two solo pianos
.) Though early audiences criticized its complexity and demands on the performers,
we have since embraced it as a flawed yet ultimately very satisfying example of Brahms' early output.
His Second Concerto defied composition law, and sounded out-of-place for the Romantic period. Its sudden mood shifts are really more characteristic of modern concertos.
In the Violin Concerto
, Brahms' conservatism characterizes the first movement
, introducing the solo following a long introduction by the orchestra.
, his Finale is completely dominated by his gypsy-rondo Hungarian style
His Double Concerto is also an interesting work
, incorporating many structural elements from earlier music
Brahms and Chamber Music
Brahms composed three string quartets
, three piano quartets
, and five trios
. The first String Quartet was published in 1873,
and publicly acknowledged to be ahead of his time - not ahead of his time as a nice way of saying it blew, but as way of compliment.
Brahms' three piano quartets cover a wide range of emotion
, and are deeply rooted in Beethoven and Schuman in style and structure
. The last of the three was completed in 1875
, just before his first symphony
Brahms's first Piano Trio (Opus 8)
, was composed in 1854
as a tribute to Clara Schumann (with whom he had a youthful love affair)
. He initially used Clara's motives and a quotation from a Beethoven song that had appeared in Schumann's Fantasy in C in the Finale
, he revised it without losing the quality
. The Second Cello Sonata
, composed in 1886
, stands apart from all works of its type
. The energy-filled sonata has been said to be one of Brahms's most inspired creations
. Brahms also composed a clarinet quintet in his late period
Want to buy sheet music, songbooks or guitar tabs? Try Sheet Music Plus. They have over a quarter million titles to choose from, and you can order online.
||2 Rhapsodies, Op. 79 Piano Solo. By Johannes Brahms. Arranged by H Gebhard. Piano Large Works (Arranged for piano). Size 9x12 inches. 24 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (50257670)
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||Johannes Brahms: German Requiem Composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Opus 45. For soprano voice solo, baritone voice solo, SATB choir and piano accompaniment. Format: vocal score. With choral notation and piano reduction. Romantic Period. Text language German. 96 pages. 7.5x10.5 inches. Published by C.F. Peters.
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Great Price for Urtext Edition
||Johannes Brahms: 75 Songs The Vocal Library. By Johannes Brahms. Arranged by Elaine Schmidt, Laura Ward, Richard Walters. (High Voice). Vocal Collection. Size 8.5x11 inches. 280 pages. Published by Hal Leonard Corporation. (740013)
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||Johannes Brahms: 50 Selected Songs Composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). For low voice and piano. Format: vocal/piano songbook. With vocal melody, piano accompaniment, introductory text and English and German text. Romantic Period. 208 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
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score and compact disc
||The Three Bs: Bach/Beethoven/Brahms for Violin & Orchestra For Violin. Includes a high-quality printed music score and a compact disc containing a complete version with soloist, in split-channel stereo (soloist on the right channel); then a second version in full stereo of the orchestral accompaniment, minus the soloist. Published by Music Minus One. (MMOCD3125)
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score and compact disc featuring split-channel stereo (accompaniment + / - the solo)
||BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77 For Violin. Contains a printed score and a compact disc featuring the concerto in split-channel stereo with the violinist on the right channel; then again in a stereo accompaniment version minus the solo violin part. Published by Music Minus One. (MMOCD3108)
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Comprehensive / Collection
two pianos four-hands
||Johannes Brahms: Haydn Variations Composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Opus 56b. For two pianos four-hands. Format: set of performance parts (2 copies included). Romantic Period. Bb Major. 66 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by C.F. Peters.
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