Music History 117
8 August 2011
Biographical Sketch of Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833, in Hamburg Germany, the son of Johann Jakob and Christina Nissen Brahms. Brahms fathers an innkeeper and an impoverished horn and double bass player, a musician of moderate ability at best; his mother was a skilled seamstress. Brahms’ parents married in 1830, his father was 24 and his mother was 41. His father taught Brahms to play violin and piano. When Brahms was six years old he created his own method of composing music in order to get the melodies he created on paper. At the age of seven he began studying piano under Otto Cossel, who three years later passed him to his own teacher, Eduard Marxsen. Brahms played a private concert at the age of ten in order to raise funds for his future education. Between the ages 14 and 16 Brahms raised money to assist his family by giving music lessons and playing in tough inns on the docks of Hamburg and at the same time composing and sometimes giving recitals.
Earlier in his career in 1848, Brahms became familiar with the mixing of the Hungarian and Gypsy style of music, known as hongrios; later apparent in his Hungarian dances. In 1852 Brahms, was inspired by a genuine Minnelied” poem by Count Kraft von Toggenburg, wrote the F sharp Piano Sonata op. 2. Brahms, along with his friend Reményi (Eduard Hoffmann), toured northern Germany from April to June in 1853. While touring he met Joseph Joachim, who would become his lifelong friend. Brahms would also meet Liszt and other prominent musicians. After their tour, Brahms went back to Göttingen to stay with Joseph; he would encourage Brahms to seek out other prominent musicians, especially the Schumann’s. While on his tour he managed to get introduced to the great composer Robert Schumann, and his wife Clara Schumann, an immensely talented pianist. Brahms idolized them, and they were very fond of him. Robert Schumann was so awed with Brahms talents that he...
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