German composer, one of the major composers of the 19th century, whose works combine the best of the classical and romantic schools.
Brahms was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1833. After studying the violin and cello with his father, a double-bass player in the city theater, Brahms mastered the piano and began to compose under the guidance of the German music teacher Eduard Marxsen, whose conservative tastes left a lasting imprint on him. In 1853 Brahms went on a concert tour as accompanist to the Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi. In the course of the tour he met the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, who introduced him in turn to the German composer Robert Schumann. Schumann was so impressed by Brahms's unpublished compositions that he wrote a wildly enthusiastic magazine article about him. Brahms cherished a deep affection for both Schumann and his wife Clara, a famous pianist. The friendship and encouragement he received from them gave impetus to his work. Many biographers contend that Brahms was deeply in love with Clara, but he did not propose to her after Schumann's death in 1856, and he never married.
In 1857 Brahms secured appointment as conductor at the court theater in Detmold, where he remained until 1859; for several years thereafter he traveled in Germany and Switzerland. His first major work to be publicly presented was the Piano Concerto no. 1 in D Minor, which he performed in Leipzig in 1859. The composition was not well received, however, because it lacked the showiness and the virtuoso passages then in vogue. The composer went to Vienna in 1863 and became director of the Singakademie (Choral Academy) but left the post a year later.
In 1868 Brahms won fame throughout Europe following the performance of his German Requiem, in which he departed from Catholic tradition by using a German rather than a Latin text. The piece, cast in seven divisions, expresses his sorrow at the death of his mother and of Schumann. Brahms settled in Vienna in 1871, accepting the directorship of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music). In 1874 he resigned his position to devote himself to composing.
Until 1873 Brahms had written chiefly for the piano, the instrument he knew best, and for chorus and orchestra. In that year, however, he produced the Variations on a Theme by Haydn, scored for full orchestra.
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Brahms Johannes (životopis)
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