BRAHMS (JOHANNES)

  • Born May 7, 1833 in the depths of Hamburg, Johannes Brahms comes from a poor family. His father Jakob, an itinerant musician, was a horn player in municipal music, then a double bassist at the orchestra of the Little Theater in Hamburg. He gives his son piano lessons. His master transmitted to him the cult of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.  
  • From the age of 10 Johannes played the piano in the harbor taverns. At 14, he gave his first solo piano concerts in public and played his own compositions. Having the experience of choir conducting, he began composing Lieder. Throughout his life, he wrote nearly two hundred (their particularity: importance of the piano part that the voice seems to accompany)
  • In 1853, at the age of 20, Brahms undertook a concert tour in Germany. He met the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim in Hanover with whom he became friends (despite the quarrels and jealousy). In Weimar, his contacts with Liszt, leader of the "new German school" are not conclusive. On the other hand, in Düsseldorf, he met Robert Schuman and his wife Clara, who warmly encouraged him. On the death of Robert Schuman (1856) Brahms renounces marrying Clara and leaves Düsseldorf. Her friendship with Clara will last until her death.  
  • Between 1857 and 1859, Brahms was appointed choirmaster at Detmold (chapel master at the court of the prince of Lippe-Detmold) and taught to princesses. From this period date a series of vocal and instrumental pieces including the Serenades 0p.11 and 16, as well as many lieder.  From 1862 Vienna became the adopted homeland of Brahms. He holds the position of choirmaster at the ViennaSingakademie (Vienna Singing Academy). However, the following year, he gave up his post to devote himself to composition, but continued to give concerts.
  • In 1865, he began composing his German Requiem op.45 written in German in homage to his mother. The creation which he conducts in April 1868 in the cathedral of Bremen, obtains a considerable success.  In May 1896, the death of Clara Schumann upset him, when He had just finished three weeks earlier the composition of "Four serious songs" (Vier ernste Gesänge).
  • During the burial in the Old Cemetery of Bonn, after forty hours on the train, Brahms catches a flu which drives him to bed. He died of liver cancer on April 3, 1897, at the age of 63. Johannes Brahms is buried in the musicians' square of the Vienna Central Cemetery next to Beethoven and Schubert.
  • © Didier Chagnas
BRAHMS (JOHANNES)