Johannes Brahms A Biography eBook ´ Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms A Biography Schroder I like Beethoven But Brahms makes me glad I'm alive I think I'll go home and listen to Brahms' Fourth I have the need to have the feeling that it's good to be aliveCharlie Brown I know what you mean That's a terrible feeling to have the need of having the feeling of havingCharles M Schulz PeanutsSwafford combines the skills of a biographer musician and historian to provide a vivid portrait of Johannes Brahms his music the people he knew and the world in which they lived Highly recommended especially for those who like Schroder and me have an affinity for this composer and the occasional need to have the feeling that it’s good to be alive I would tentatively recommend this biography While it certainly is very long and definitely not lacking in detail some of that extraordinary amount of detail is not correct For instance on page 48 he describes insurrections taking place in several countries including Czechoslovakia in 1848 In reality Czechoslovakia did not come into existence until 1918 some 70 years later What country did he mean? While some people may feel that this is a small point the author makes reference in his introduction to a number of other errors being pointed out to him since it was published in hard cover This is not goodIn addition the author mentions the Frauenchor women's choir that Brahms directed while at the same time as mentioning Brahms' Marienlieder While it is not made clear that there is no connection between the work and the choir their being mentioned together indicates that the Marienlieder was written for women's voices alone when in fact it was written for mixed choir This is never made clear Then the author goes on to mention that Brahms eventually wrote six Marienlieder when in fact it was seven These are not state secrets being held in an obscure archive at an obscure university in Bad Ischl; they are readily available and uantifiable basic facts that the author did not bother to either make clear or verify These and other faux pas bring into uestion his research abilities or rather those of his assistants and how far he can be trusted despite him often citing his sourcesOn the plus side there are few writers who have such a tremendous command of the English language and write as powerfully as Swafford can I found it often fascinating to read If nothing else his tome helped me to appreciate Brahms' music than before In addition Swafford points out that one of the reasons for the lowering of musical standards amongst composers and others is the fact that people don't play two piano or four hand one piano renditions of important works any due to the rise of the gramophone and now the compact disc player At times his insights are exceptionalThe problem with composer biographies is that those whose research abilities are impeccable rarely have good writing skills and vice versa For those who need to be sure that the information they are getting is absolutely correct they will have to approach a good reference librarian to recommend an academic rather than a popular biography Johannes Brahms is one of the greatest composers of all time He wrote 4 beautiful symphonies all of which I have listened to and loved My favorite piece by Brahms would probably be the Piano uintet in F minor because it is very dramatic The fiery elegance of the piece will take your breath away Swafford's Biography Of BrahmsI read Jan Swafford's monumental 1997 biography of Johannes Brahms 1833 1897 after reading his biography of the American composer Charles Ives and after reading the 1991 biography of Brahms by Malcolm MacDonald Swafford has written an outstanding biography of Brahms and a through perceptive consideration of his music But greater than either of these accomplishments his book brings Brahms and late nineteenth century Vienna to life Swafford has given a great deal of thought to Brahms and his book helped me think about the nature of creative gifts about the relationship between love and calling and about many matters that are much broader than either biography or musicSwafford gives a great deal of attention to two formative experiences of young Brahms 1 his childhood of poverty in Hamburg where he played as a pre adolescent in dives freuented by prostitutes and sailors this account has been uestioned by some writers and 2 Robert Schumann's article about Brahms at the age of 20 heralding the young man as the heir to Beethoven and predicting a brilliant future for himSwafford's book emphasizes Brahms' difficulties throughout life in forming a lasting sexual relationship with a woman other than prostitutes Brahms exhibited to sort of behavior towards women freuently described in terms of The Virgin and the Whore Brahms could only be physically intimate with women he did not respect Thus Brahms ultimately rejected the romantic opportunities that came his way in the persons of Clara Schumann and Agathe von Siebold among other women He withdrew into a protective shell when friendships with women threatened to become romantic Yet women were the greatest source of inspiration to Brahms as a composer He poured into his music what he denied himself as a man A crusty figure Brahms was difficult to know intimately particularly by womenThe article by Robert Schumann made Brahms famous from the age of twenty before he had done much Great things were expected of Brahms but Schumann's praise burdened the fledgling composer with the fear that he would disappoint Schumann's hopes in him Brahms worked slowly and became an astonishing musical craftsman; but he felt he had to justify Schumann's confidence as well as meet the standards of the great composers of the past especially BeethovenThere is a wealth of discussion in this book of Brahms' relationships with both Clara and Robert Schumann their daughter Julie the violinist Joachim the critic Hanslick Liszt Wagner Bruckner Mahler and many others The book is set in the last years of liberal Vienna and Swafford poignantly draws the relationship between Brahms's music and the rise of irrationality anti Semitism and violence that would soon plague the Twentieth CenturyI found Swafford's discussions of Brahms' music highly insightful It is less detailed perhaps than Malcolm MacMacDonald's study which discusses virtually every work of Brahms; but there is ample material here to form a basis for an exploration and appreciation of Brahms' works Brahms' romanticism and his musical formalism and learning are well explored and tied in with a consideration of his major compositions Swafford's most thorough musical discussions are of the four symphonies and he tends to move uicker over Brahms's songs This was also the case in Swafford's book on IvesI felt I got to know Brahms in spite of himself in this book Brahms devoted himself wholeheartedly to his art and in the process lost a great deal of the value of human love and human sexual closeness It was and remains a difficult exchange More than encouraging the reader to get to know and love Brahms's music Swafford's biography will help the reader think about and try to compassionately understand peopleRobin Friedman This is by far the best biography of any composer I have read It not only presented interesting information about Brahms the man it also presented concurrent and detailed analysis of some of his seminal works As I was reading I would go find a youtube recording and immediately not only see but hear was I was reading about My understanding and appreciation of Brahms the person and the breadth of his composition has been enhanced many fold A very nicely paced narrative of a great and interesting man and his times Because of the intelligence of the author and his respect for his subject I became filled with enthusiasm for Brahms and listened to a lot of his music I travelled through his life with him from Opus 1 on About half the music was new to me thank you YouTube Though I'm an amateur almost all the musical analysis was accessible and helpful I loved Swafford's way with words movingly high flown just where I wanted it to be and dry to the appropriate degree at just the right moments This lengthy biography was an endlessly fascinating read Swafford focuses on Brahms' life psychology and relationships than on analyses of his compositional techniue and development There is a lot of detail here but the prose never bogs down Swafford has a great deal of insight into Brahms' motivations and his position as a relatively conservative yet daring composer caught between the waning of Romanticism and the emergence of modernism The analysis and discussion of Brahms' music that does appear in the text makes the latter clear and helps to explain the richness in in these piecesHe also has a very clear eye regarding his subject portraying Brahms' as a complex person with flaws that often caused conflict with and even estrangement from even his closest friends and with virtues that drew people to him and cemented life long friendships I particularly enjoyed the examination of his relationship with Clara Schumann which spanned four decades and was foundational to Brahms' personal and professional life A New York Times Notable BookThis brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet tobecome the definitive study of Johannes Brahms The Plain DealerJudicious compassionate and full of insight into Brahms's human complexity as well as his music Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biographyProclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was only twenty Johannes Brahms dedicated himself to a long and extraordinarily productive career  In this book Jan Swafford sets out to reveal the little known Brahms the boy who grew up in mercantile Hamburg and played piano in beer halls among prostitutes and drunken sailors the fiercely self protective man who thwarted future biographers by burning papers scores and notebooks late in his life  Making unprecedented use of the remaining archival material Swafford offers richly expanded perspectives on Brahms's youth on his difficult romantic life particularly his longstanding relationship with Clara Schumann and on his professional rivalry with Lizst and Wagner  Johannes Brahms will no doubt stand as the definitive work on Brahms one of the monumental biographies in the entire musical library London Weekly StandardIt is a measure of the accomplishment of Jan Swafford's biography that Brahms's sadness becomes palpable Swafford manages to construct a full bodied human being The New York Times Book Review I don't read many biographies and I'm not sure why I picked this up but I immediately liked the book especially as it was written by a musician The portions of the book that focus on the music are fabulous even with my limited understanding and I believe the author writes about the music the way that Brahms was intended to be appreciatedHowever the rest as the book goes on descends into tedium The problem really is that Brahm's life is too long and too large and the author having set a standard for event reporting just has too much to report and can't step back As a result I became distant from the author and from Brahms himself I acknowledge it is a difficult task but to use a Brahms analogy might have mixed up the writing style like the last movement of Brahms' 4th than just use the same reporting styleI can recommend this to a lot of people especially musicians and biography lovers who want a change of pace Brahms was a true giant and I love his music The book is enlightening in many ways I just can't recommend it enthusiastically A marvelously readable and balanced biography I enjoyed it thoroughly My brother and sister in law both highly trained musicians that read will get the parts I missed where Swafford illustrates a point about the music by printing out a section of various scores Still even if you cannot do this it's a worthwhile read


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