Who was Johannes Brahms?
Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, he spent much of his professional life in Vienna. He is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music,.
Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, voice, and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works.
The famous “Brahms Lullaby” is known as “Wiegenlied” in German. Originally written for piano and voice, it is often played on the violin as well. Brahms wrote it for a friend named Bertha Faber when she had her second child.
Brahms’ First Symphony is sometimes called “Beethoven’s Tenth.” One of the themes in the final movement even sounds a bit like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. It took him 22 years to complete!
Brahms loved “gypsy” music and Hungarian folk music. He wrote a set of 21 Hungarian Dances for piano four-hands (a style of duet where two people play on one piano), which he later arranged for orchestra.
As popular as Brahms still is today, he was often seen as “old-fashioned” in the 19th century music world.
Brahms is less well known outside of the Classical music community, but he’s a favorite among many music students. Most of his piano music is fairly advanced, though easier arrangements of some famous melodies are available.