Spotlight on Great Classical Composers: Brahms

We’re back with our fifth post for Spotlight on Great Classical Composers ~! 

Spotlight on Great Classical Composers focuses on sharing about some of the greatest classical music composers, so we can all hear of their life journeys beyond their works. 

Our past features in this spotlight series include Bach, Beethoven and Bartók and Bernstein. This week, we will be taking a peek into the life of Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897), a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period.  His eminence in the world of classical music led him to be often spoken about as one of the “Three B’s of music” together with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.

Born in Hamburg, Germany to a musician father and a seamstress mother, young Brahms started composing music before the age of 10.  His piano teacher complained that young Brahms could be such a good piano player if not for his continuous want for composing – making his debut as a performer in a private concert playing Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat major for piano and winds Op.16 and a solo étude of Henri Herz. 

Brahms’ parents disapproved of his early efforts as a composer – they felt he would have better career prospects as a performer.  However, he continued at his craft of composition, writing 4 big symphonies for orchestra, 2 piano concerti, 1 violin concerto, numerous sonatas, piano trios, piano quartets, string quintets, string sextets, and over 200 songs before his retirement ! 

In 1853, Brahms met with the renowned German composer Robert Schumann.  Schumann, taken by Brahms’ talent and mind, immediately dubbed him a genius and praised him publicly in his writings – quickly catapulting Brahms into the heights of the music world.

However, soon after young Brahms met Schumann, the latter suffered a nervous breakdown which led him to be institutionalised.  During his confinement, young Brahms became a source of constant support for Robert Schumann’s wife Clara ~ and they grew to be close friends and lifelong musical partners.

Clara Schumann’s presence inspired Brahms as a composer.  He often sought advice and approval from Clara for his works and would incorporate into his compositions, musical themes that held great meaning for Clara and Robert Schumann.

Brahms lived in Vienna for much of his life.  He was known to have a softer side with children, often handing out penny candy to kids he encountered in his neighbourhood.  Frequently going for long walks in the woods, he too enjoyed nature.  Over his last years, Brahms completed Vier ernste Gesange, which drew on work from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament – a revealing piece for him, damning what was found on earth and embracing death as a relief from the material world’s excesses and pain.  Now, Brahms is remembered as one of the most revered and popular composers of the Romantic period – leaving behind many cornerstone works including his Academic Festival Overture and German Requiem. 

To find out more about Brahms, join The Glasshouse with your children now ~!  You’ll be greeted by more snippets within easy-to-follow stories, brought to life by illustrations and animations, like the ones above !

The Glasshouse #origins is definitely one of the best ways to introduce the great classical composers to your children.  The Glasshouse #origins offers young buds and new sprouts quality sustained exposure to classical music ~ through unique monthly collections of Storyboards, Activities and Canvases, each themed and focused on an array of great classical composers.

November 2020 collections featuring Brahms ~ are now available within our creative virtual sphere The Glasshouse, and December collections have just been uploaded as well ! 

Join us in The Glasshouse for meaningful personal journeys of growth for both children and adults !

Stay tuned for our next Spotlight on Great Classical Composers coming in January ~!