Earning a coveted spot with the greats in music history, Johannes Brahms took the music world with force. A leading composer in the Romantic period, he brought back the classical styles popularized by previous composers. Although known for his symphonies and sonatas, he wrote over 200 works. Looking at the highlights of his life, his worldview, and his music, one sees the true person of Johannes Brahms.
The musical genius came into this world on May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany to a poor family. Considering the fact that his father played various instruments, he got a musical start at a very young age. After proving his talents in music with his father, he studied under various tutors learning the piano, cello, and horn. In his studies, books opened up a completely new world for him and learning about folklore became his favorite. Playing for various places around his home helped supplement his family’s income during tight times. In 1853, at age 20, he met the legendary ...view middle of the document...
Shortly after hearing about the death of his friend, Clara Schumann in 1896, his own health started declining. His death came from cancer complications on April 3, 1897, one month after his last performance.
The worldview of Johannes Brahms showed itself in two different ends of the spectrum. As for his belief in God, he admired and studied the Bible, especially Luther’s translation. Once he quoted “In my study I can lay my hand on my Bible even in the dark.” His piece, German Requiem, had deep Biblical roots and pointed to the life empty of Christian truth. Different pieces by Brahms showed “deep concern with man’s mortal life and his hope of heaven.” However, he did not come to his strong beliefs until later on in life. Loving to use his money for beneficial uses, Johannes often supported young struggling musicians. Often his philanthropic tendencies happened in secret. Similar to others living during this time, his life was tainted with hints of pessimism. Although he seemed severe in his attitude to others, to children he changed into a jolly, entertaining fellow. Comparable to his moods swings, his music varied as well.
Several distinct characteristics can be heard in his music. One of the few to be able to do so, Brahms successfully wove opposing trends and classical roots into his music. Loving syncopation, his musical rhythms mirrored that of his friend, Robert Schumann. Also, his ties to Hungarian folk music can be heard in pieces setting him apart. The sense of movement in his pieces increased throughout his works. Concerned with bringing back the classical style, he provided traditional compositions at a time when all composers thought previous methods should be eliminated. His love for music provided the reason for his many compositions, including chamber music, sonatas, symphonies, and chorale pieces.
While the Romantic composers tried to throw off restraints of Classical music, Brahms interwove the classical themes in with his ideas. His ability to do so made his music timeless. One of the few to see his legacy in his lifetime, he got placed in the hall of fame with other major composers such as Bach and Schumann. While anyone can listen to his music, understanding his life, music, and worldview gives his works a greater depth.