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Johannes Brahms Tickets

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Classical Concert
24 Apr 2024, Wed 8 PM
Composer: Richard Wagner , Robert Schumann
View Tickets from 129 US$

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Classical Concert
25 Apr 2024, Thu 8 PM
Composer: Antonín Dvořák , Zlatomir Fung
Cast: Rachel Cheung , Zlatomir Fung
Ballet
26 Apr 2024, Fri 8 PM
Composer: Frédéric Chopin , Johannes Brahms
View Tickets from 145 US$

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Classical Concert
26 Apr 2024, Fri 8 PM
Composer: Béla Bartók
View Tickets from 155 US$

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Classical Concert
27 Apr 2024, Sat 11 AM
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns , Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Cast: Daniele Giorgi , Natalie Clein , .... + 1
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Classical Concert
27 Apr 2024, Sat 8 PM
View Tickets from 155 US$

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Classical Concert
28 Apr 2024, Sun 2 PM
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Ballet
28 Apr 2024, Sun 3 PM
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Classical Concert

About

Johannes Brahms was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria. His reputation and status as a composer are such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.

Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, and voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. An uncompromising perfectionist, Brahms destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.

Brahms has been considered, by his contemporaries and by later writers, as both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Classical masters. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers. Embedded within his meticulous structures, however, are deeply romantic motifs.

Brahms maintained a classical sense of form and order in his works, in contrast to the opulence of the music of many of his contemporaries. Thus, many admirers (though not necessarily Brahms himself) saw him as the champion of traditional forms and "pure music", as opposed to the "New German" embrace of programme music.

Brahms venerated Beethoven; in the composer's home, a marble bust of Beethoven looked down on the spot where he composed, and some passages in his works are reminiscent of Beethoven's style. Brahms's First Symphony bears strongly the influence of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, as the two works are both in C minor and end in the struggle towards a C major triumph. The main theme of the finale of the First Symphony is also reminiscent of the main theme of the finale of Beethoven's Ninth, and when this resemblance was pointed out to Brahms he replied that any dunce could see that. In 1876, when the work was premiered in Vienna, it was immediately hailed as "Beethoven's Tenth". Indeed, the similarity of Brahms's music to that of late Beethoven had first been noted as early as November 1853 in a letter from Albert Dietrich to Ernst Naumann.

Brahms was a master of counterpoint. "For Brahms, ... the most complicated forms of counterpoint were a natural means of expressing his emotions," writes Geiringer. "As Palestrina or Bach succeeded in giving spiritual significance to their technique, so Brahms could turn a canon in motu contrario or a canon per augmentationem into a pure piece of lyrical poetry." Writers on Brahms have commented on his use of counterpoint. For example, of Op. 9, Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Geiringer writes that Brahms "displays all the resources of contrapuntal art". In the A Major piano quartet Opus 26, Swafford notes that the third movement is "demonic-canonic", echoing Haydn's famous minuet for string quartet called the 'Witch's Round'." Swafford further opines that "thematic development, counterpoint, and form were the dominant technical terms in which Brahms... thought about music".

Allied to his skill in counterpoint was Brahms’s subtle handling of rhythm and meter. The New Grove Dictionary of Music speculates that the teenage Brahms’s contact with Hungarian and gypsy folk music led to “his lifelong fascination with the irregular rhythms, triplet figures and use of rubato” in his compositions. The Hungarian Dances are among Brahms' most-appreciated pieces. According to Michael Musgrave (1985, p. 269) “only one composer rivals him in the advanced nature of his rhythmic thinking, and that is Stravinsky.”

Brahms's consummate skills in counterpoint and rhythm are richly present in A German Requiem, a work that was partially inspired by his mother's death in 1865 (at which time he composed a funeral march that was to become the basis of Part Two, Denn alles Fleisch), but which also incorporates material from a symphony which he started in 1854 but abandoned following Schumann's suicide attempt. He once wrote that the Requiem "belonged to Schumann". The first movement of this abandoned symphony was re-worked as the first movement of the First Piano Concerto.

Brahms loved the classical composers Mozart and Haydn. He collected first editions and autographs of their works and edited performing editions. He studied the music of pre-classical composers, including Giovanni Gabrieli, Johann Adolph Hasse, Heinrich Schütz, Domenico Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel, and, especially, Johann Sebastian Bach. His friends included leading musicologists, and, with Friedrich Chrysander, he edited an edition of the works of François Couperin. Brahms also edited works by C. P. E. Bach and W. F. Bach. He looked to older music for inspiration in the art of counterpoint; the themes of some of his works are modelled on Baroque sources such as Bach's The Art of Fugue in the fugal finale of Cello Sonata No. 1 or the same composer's Cantata No. 150 in the passacaglia theme of the Fourth Symphony's finale. Peter Phillips (2007) hears affinities between Brahms’ rhythmically charged contrapuntal textures and those of Renaissance masters such as Giovanni Gabrieli and William Byrd. Referring to Byrd's Though Amaryllis dance, Philips remarks that “the cross-rhythms in this piece so excited E. H. Fellowes that he likened them to Brahms's compositional style.”

The early Romantic composers had a major influence on Brahms, particularly Schumann, who encouraged Brahms as a young composer. During his stay in Vienna in 1862–63, Brahms became particularly interested in the music of Franz Schubert. The latter's influence may be identified in works by Brahms dating from the period, such as the two piano quartets Op. 25 and Op. 26, and the Piano Quintet which alludes to Schubert's String Quintet and Grand Duo for piano four hands. The influence of Chopin and Mendelssohn on Brahms is less obvious, although occasionally one can find in his works what seems to be an allusion to one of theirs (for example, Brahms's Scherzo, Op. 4, alludes to Chopin's Scherzo in B-flat minor; the scherzo movement in Brahms's Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 5, alludes to the finale of Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in C minor).

Brahms considered giving up composition when it seemed that other composers' innovations in extended tonality resulted in the rule of tonality being broken altogether. Although Wagner became fiercely critical of Brahms as the latter grew in stature and popularity, he was enthusiastically receptive of the early Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel; Brahms himself, according to many sources, deeply admired Wagner's music, confining his ambivalence only to the dramaturgical precepts of Wagner's theory.

Brahms wrote settings for piano and voice of 144 German folk songs, and many of his lieder reflect folk themes or depict scenes of rural life.

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