Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

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Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by danglam » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:38 pm

I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies. Totally in love with it.
Maybe I'm wrong about it - but it seems to me (this is what I got to thinking after hearing a lot of talks) that Brahms is not considered at the same "level" as our (justifiably) beloved Mozart, Beethoven etc. (It's hard for me to express exactly waht I mean, mainly because of my poor English, so I hope you undersatand what I'm trying to say).
This is not a scholarly backed-up fact, but it's what I "sense" from what I hear and read here and there.
Is that true? Is there a "musical explanation" to why Brahms should be less appreciated? Or maybe is it just in my imagination? (BTW - same goes, at some extent, to Dvorak - they're both composers that I absolutely love, but are not as "praised" as I would like them to be).
I would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks!!!

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:27 pm

Welcome to the board.

I've taken drubbings here for making lists and rankings, but I don't have any trouble stating my opinion that Brahms is the most important composer chronologically after Beethoven and qualitatively after the "Holy Trinity" (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven--the three Brahms himself acknowledged as masters he could not reach). Famously, the conductor Hans von Buelow actually made Brahms part of the Trinity, at one point actually referring to Bach the Father, Beethoven the Son, and Brahms the Holy Ghost.

Whether you wish to categorize him or not, you are not going to find a dearth of Brahms appreciation here or in the world of music in general. Remember, in a sense all great composers are "neglected."

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Post by piston » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:28 pm

Hello! I wouldn't let "impressionistic evidence" diminish my love for a particular composer. I also love Brahms and Dvorak and they are both situated on a higher "level" than other composers whose music is also dear to my heart. So, you're in very good company with both of these composers.
Just a thought for the purpose of discussion. Do you think it took Dvorak longer than Brahms to compose his greatest symphonies or do you also love Dvorak's early, 1-5 symphonies?
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by BorisG » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:34 pm

danglam wrote:I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies. Totally in love with it.
Maybe I'm wrong about it - but it seems to me (this is what I got to thinking after hearing a lot of talks) that Brahms is not considered at the same "level" as our (justifiably) beloved Mozart, Beethoven etc. (It's hard for me to express exactly waht I mean, mainly because of my poor English, so I hope you undersatand what I'm trying to say).
This is not a scholarly backed-up fact, but it's what I "sense" from what I hear and read here and there.
Is that true? Is there a "musical explanation" to why Brahms should be less appreciated? Or maybe is it just in my imagination? (BTW - same goes, at some extent, to Dvorak - they're both composers that I absolutely love, but are not as "praised" as I would like them to be).
I would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks!!!
Popular votes at classical music stations tend to agree with your subject line, but Brahms appears soon after in most cases. Does that really mean anything? I think not. You are probably more knowledgable than most of those voters.

Brahms impresses me as having the most solid collection of symphonies from start to finish, than anybody. Going against that argument, of course, is that he wrote only four. As did Schumann, who must also be included in a discussion of symphonists during these periods.

In addition, Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Mahler, Tchaikovsky. Not bad company, so do not worry too much about such trivia. That's all it is. Enjoy the music as you hear it.

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Post by danglam » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:59 pm

piston wrote: Just a thought for the purpose of discussion. Do you think it took Dvorak longer than Brahms to compose his greatest symphonies or do you also love Dvorak's early, 1-5 symphonies?
Thanks for the reply!!!
I will be totally honest - I am not that familiar with Dvorak's 1-5 symphonies. Anyway, I was actually trying to say that I also love Dvorak (check my last parenthetical clause).
The purpose of my post was to get an encouragement about my love to Brahms (and perhaps also Dvorak).
Of course I don't really mean that I need an encouragement, rather than wanting to express my "opinion", and perhaps wanting to hear what other ppl say about it.

I came to realize something that you people probably already have long ago: Loving classical music is not like loving any other kind of music; the depths and sentiments that are reached in classical music are very special... This feeling intensifies especially in light of nowadays' "music"... Again my poor English stops me from expressing what I feel but I guess you understand what I mean...

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:09 pm

danglam wrote:I came to realize something that you people probably already have long ago: Loving classical music is not like loving any other kind of music; the depths and sentiments that are reached in classical music are very special... This feeling intensifies especially in light of nowadays' "music"... Again my poor English stops me from expressing what I feel but I guess you understand what I mean...
First of all, your English is not poor. I would have taken you for a native speaker.

Second, many of us, including myself, feel an isolation in our daily lives from others with whom we can share our appreciation, which is one of the reasons we come here, perhaps the main one.

Please stay with us and post often.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Barry » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:17 pm

I agree with you that there is a general acceptance (obviously far from unanymous, but nonetheless about as close to a consensus as you'll get in something as subjective as music) that Beethoven, Bach and Mozart occupy the top rung of composers and that Brahms is at or near the top of the next rung.
Personally, I think only Beethoven was greater and that Brahms was more consistantly great than even him. Orchestral music is my favorite genre, and he was just so consistantly brilliant in the symphonies and concertos, not to mention the Haydn Variations. He was also among the very best at chamber music (I'd only put Beethoven and Schubert at the same level in that genre; and again, those two probably weren't quite as consistantly great at Brahms).
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Post by piston » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:30 pm

danglam wrote:
piston wrote: Just a thought for the purpose of discussion. Do you think it took Dvorak longer than Brahms to compose his greatest symphonies or do you also love Dvorak's early, 1-5 symphonies?
Thanks for the reply!!!
I will be totally honest - I am not that familiar with Dvorak's 1-5 symphonies. Anyway, I was actually trying to say that I also love Dvorak (check my last parenthetical clause).
The purpose of my post was to get an encouragement about my love to Brahms (and perhaps also Dvorak).
Of course I don't really mean that I need an encouragement, rather than wanting to express my "opinion", and perhaps wanting to hear what other ppl say about it.

I came to realize something that you people probably already have long ago: Loving classical music is not like loving any other kind of music; the depths and sentiments that are reached in classical music are very special... This feeling intensifies especially in light of nowadays' "music"... Again my poor English stops me from expressing what I feel but I guess you understand what I mean...
I don't think I could have said this any better. You're absolutely right! The feeling does intensify and the good news is that, when you reach the age you don't even want to think about or can't even visualize yourself becoming that old, the feeling is still intense. :D
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Post by living_stradivarius » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:32 pm

If Mozart and Beethoven had a child together, it would have been Brahms. Really, his music sounds like an amalgamation of both.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:48 pm

living_stradivarius wrote:If Mozart and Beethoven had a child together, it would have been Brahms. Really, his music sounds like an amalgamation of both.
Brahms is the classic example in music of what Harold Bloom called (with respect to literature) "the anxiety of influence." Though he adopted in a superficial sense the forms of Mozart and Beethoven, his style is quite different and dependent more on his more immediate mentor Schubert. Read the famous essay by Schoenberg, "Brahms the Progressive."

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Post by diegobueno » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:50 pm

All the musicians I know in the real world worship Brahms as one of the "holy trinity" as has been stated here.

Only in online discussion boards like this have I ever heard anything negative about Brahms. I don't know why that is. Maybe the world is full of closet Brahms haters who only show themselves online.

I have known some non-musicians (all of them women for some reason) who were less than enthusiastic about Brahms even though they liked classical music in general. Has anyone else noted a gender bias in dislike for Brahms?

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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by keaggy220 » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:54 pm

danglam wrote:I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies. Totally in love with it.
Maybe I'm wrong about it - but it seems to me (this is what I got to thinking after hearing a lot of talks) that Brahms is not considered at the same "level" as our (justifiably) beloved Mozart, Beethoven etc. (It's hard for me to express exactly waht I mean, mainly because of my poor English, so I hope you undersatand what I'm trying to say).
This is not a scholarly backed-up fact, but it's what I "sense" from what I hear and read here and there.
Is that true? Is there a "musical explanation" to why Brahms should be less appreciated? Or maybe is it just in my imagination? (BTW - same goes, at some extent, to Dvorak - they're both composers that I absolutely love, but are not as "praised" as I would like them to be).
I would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks!!!
You are not alone!! I love Brahms! I can listen to his quintets, violin sonatas and symphonies for hours and hours...

When I started listening to classical it was LvB all the time. Brahms was the one that broke that LvB cycle for me and actually it may have been JBuck that suggested his 1st and 2nd Piano Concerto's which are the works that helped me to discover Brahms.

Condoleezza Rice is a big Brahms fan and in an interview with the NY Times she said that Brahms is "passionate but not sentimental" - and I think that is a good description. Also, I've recently discovered Dvorak's string quartets and absolutely love them!

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Post by Gregg » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:11 am

diegobueno wrote:All the musicians I know in the real world worship Brahms as one of the "holy trinity" as has been stated here.
As someone who came to Brahms later in life, I used to be surprised at the deep love people had for his music. Particularly musicians and music professionals (although this young crop keeps dropping Schubert's name) - anyway among music lovers if you did a "take one composer to a desert island" thread, I bet Brahms would come out ahead of Mozart, taking the number one spot.

For me Mozart would not be #2, but I have to assume for many he would be. Alone with Beethoven on a desert island, that might give me pause.....

Brahms does strange things to people, with his mix of emotions - without seeming overtly emotional, making such strange and wonderful sounds and combinations - while seeming formal and backward looking? Right now I am in love with his first Cello sonata.


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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:29 am

danglam wrote:I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies.
I personally wouldn't rate his symphonies as more than ordinary Romantic fare. I won't listen to most of his symphonic music. But his solo piano works and his chamber music and his songs rank up there with the finest things ever produced.
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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:42 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
danglam wrote:I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies.
I personally wouldn't rate his symphonies as more than ordinary Romantic fare. I won't listen to most of his symphonic music.
Well, the second sentence certainly explains the first.

:)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:49 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
danglam wrote:I am a huge fan of Brahms, especially after listening to his 3rd and 4th symphonies.
I personally wouldn't rate his symphonies as more than ordinary Romantic fare. I won't listen to most of his symphonic music.
Well, the second sentence certainly explains the first.

:)
I finally got to where I wouldn't even tolerate it on the radio. Teutonic bombast. Overexposure, don't you know. 8)
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Post by James » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:59 am

most of the really serious musicians ive met or have ever known have all unamiously liked Brahms & JS Bach, HOWEVER, not the case with regards to both Beethoven and especially Mozart...

diegobuono wrote:I have known some non-musicians (all of them women for some reason) who were less than enthusiastic about Brahms even though they liked classical music in general. Has anyone else noted a gender bias in dislike for Brahms?
most of the women i know or have known, (heck, could extend that to MOST PEOPLE I know), don't really like music music, especially classical music of any kind. I have found the gals seem to prefer stuff like Air Supply and Michael Bolton. nuff said. :(

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:14 am

James wrote:most of the really serious musicians ive met or have ever known have all unamiously liked Brahms & JS Bach, HOWEVER, not the case with regards to both Beethoven and especially Mozart...
Most of the serious musicians I have known have had enough sense not to put up artificial and arbitrary barriers against appreciation. As late as my going to college I really did not have the slightest idea what Beethoven was about except that he wrote a couple of nice things (I think I had heard the Emperor Concerto and the Ninth Symphony, and oh, yes, dear old Mrs. Troidle made me learn the Pathetique Sonata). That deficiency did not cause me to set my stubborn feet on the spot and say that at the age of seventeen I knew what I liked and that was that. But for the grace of God, I could have been as big a Philistine as my father, a fine musician who still does not get the difference between Beethoven and Roll Over Beethoven.

Let me speak perfectly frankly: There are gray areas in music appreciation that will be forever with us, but Mozart and Beethoven are not in those areas and anyone who leaves them out of his or her musical life yet claims to love classical music has a screw loose somewhere.

Sorry, having one of my days when I am not willing to brook any nonsense.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

James

Post by James » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:21 am

Well, most of the deadly serious musicians i was referring to are big music lovers (not only western classical)....they did give both a chance and were exposed to their music at very early ages and throughout their lives, they do recognize the formal achievements of those composers but yet, they do not like really listening to their music for various reasons.

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:31 am

James wrote:Well, most of the deadly serious musicians i was referring to are big music lovers (not only western classical)....they did give both a chance and were exposed to their music at very early ages and throughout their lives, they do recognize the formal achievements of those composers but yet, they do not like really listening to their music for various reasons.
Now that is a fairer and more reasonable statement. Einstein (Albert, not Alfred) was a known connoisseur of Bach and Mozart and just about nothing else, including explicitly Beethoven and Brahms. But if you read his reasons they are some of the "wrong" reasons you allude to, and boil down to an individualized version (in his case obviously to be taken somewhat seriously) of "I just don't like it." I understand "I just don't like it"; it's just not a very good explanation, is it, if you're rejecting Beethoven and Brahms, or Mozart, or Bach?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

James

Post by James » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:56 am

yeah, but Albert Einstein wasn't a serious musician was he? so obviously his reasons would be much different than someone who IS.

and i dont see what's so hard to understand about what i said earlier, i thought i was perfectly clear, anyway...

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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:39 am

jbuck919 wrote:...after the "Holy Trinity" (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven--the three Brahms himself acknowledged as masters he could not reach). Famously, the conductor Hans von Buelow actually made Brahms part of the Trinity, at one point actually referring to Bach the Father, Beethoven the Son, and Brahms the Holy Ghost.

Whether you wish to categorize him or not, you are not going to find a dearth of Brahms appreciation here or in the world of music in general. Remember, in a sense all great composers are "neglected."
This is another wonderful "Buckism" (Holy Trinity) and I just love responding to these things!

Let's balance this out a bit: Hans von Bülow's motivation for the "3 B's" had less to do with Brahms than with his hatred for the cheating Wagner and his former father-in-law, Liszt. The chamelion Bülow also wrote Tschaikowsky that he (along with Raff, Saint-Saens, Brahms and Rheinberger) will be remembered as one of the five great late 19th-century masters. Tschaikowsky's reply: "Such an honor to be included among these masters! But---Rheinberger...?!"

Brahms, late in life, expressed the opinion that Schumann is the greater of the two of them, so if you quote Brahms on your "Holy Trinity", do give his own opinion of Schumann as well. To compose music on the "level" of Schumann was his expressed ideal. This he proudly stated many times.

Brahms is certainly not underrated. If anything, high school and college music teachers generally perfer him to Schumann, whose true popularity remains by-in-large with composers and performing musicians. Among many Brahmsians exists a strong prejudice against Schumann.

For many, like George Szell, Schumann remains the "greatest of the (purely) Romantic composers" (Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms are the others), so opinions range widely, many even regarding Wagner the greatest after Beethoven.

While Brahms was influenced by Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others, the outstanding influence in his music came from Schumann---and the "appropriation of the Schumann style", as more than one musicologist put it. No, you don't need to review the scores----one hears it amply in the symphonies and chamber works especially.

I would say that here in Germany, Brahms is surely considered one of the seven or eight greatest composers of all time (I'd rank him just behind Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Wagner) and (except for the Germans' lack of appreciation for much of Handel) that is a pretty fair listing of his popularity here, too. Roughly equal with Schubert, but ahead of Mendelssohn, Tschaikowsky and Dvorâk.

Folks I know who got to know Brahms before Schumann were greatly surprised when they delved into the music of the latter. But it's somewhat different than listening only to Beethoven and then discovering Haydn or Mozart later on.....

Best regards!
Jack
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Post by RebLem » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:37 am

piston wrote:Hello! I wouldn't let "impressionistic evidence" diminish my love for a particular composer. I also love Brahms and Dvorak and they are both situated on a higher "level" than other composers whose music is also dear to my heart. So, you're in very good company with both of these composers.
Just a thought for the purpose of discussion. Do you think it took Dvorak longer than Brahms to compose his greatest symphonies or do you also love Dvorak's early, 1-5 symphonies?
The Dvorak symphonies are divided into two types, and the 5th is not part of the "early" symphonies stylistically. The first four were written under Wagnerian influence, the last five under the influence of Brahms. As a matter of fact, Dvorak got his big break when he sent some of his work to Brahms for comment. Brahms was so impressed that he persuaded his publisher, Simrock, to take on Dvorak, too.

Dvorak and Simrock had a hard go of it at first. At issue was Dvorak's first name. He insisted on Antonin. Simrock wanted to Germanize it and make it Anton. They finally compromised on the abbreviation Ant.

And, danglam, don't beat yourself up about your English language skills. While your English could stand improvement, it is not poor. More like a cut above fair to middlin'. In fact, you are, I am afraid, already better at it than many people who use English as a first and only language.
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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by johnshade » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:49 am

Corlyss_D wrote: I personally wouldn't rate his symphonies as more than ordinary Romantic fare.
-
In 1947, Richard Strauss (with tongue in cheek) said of himself, "I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer!"

I believe that Strauss considered Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner as first-rate. Strauss knew Brahms and conducted his symphonies. Strauss took advice from Brahms seriously, but I don't think Strauss put Brahms in the same catagory as Mozart.

I love Brahms Symphony #1, but a lot of his music just doesn't move me. Just my opinion, but I believe that Brahms is a first-class, second-rate composer.
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Post by piston » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:51 am

Thanks, RebLem. The 1-5 categorization as Dvorak's early symphonies was clearly an arbitrary choice on my part. I should give his fifth a much more careful listening.
By the way,I have finally read your full signature and now wonder if the word "entrepreneur" originated in French Canada :lol:
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Post by Marc » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:17 am

danglam wrote:I came to realize something that you people probably already have long ago: Loving classical music is not like loving any other kind of music; the depths and sentiments that are reached in classical music are very special... This feeling intensifies especially in light of nowadays' "music"... Again my poor English stops me from expressing what I feel but I guess you understand what I mean...
I understand what you mean .... :)

And I love Brahms, too. There is this unique combination of melody and melancholy. Apart from his orchestral works, check out his choral and chamber music. I'm particularly fond of his Trio for horn, violin and piano (op. 40). I heard it once in a small church and immediately wanted to buy it (which I did).

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:26 am

Marc wrote:There is this unique combination of melody and melancholy.
That's one of the things I love about Tchaikovsky :-)

Cheers,
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Post by Sapphire » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:40 pm

I thought it was self-evident that Brahms is not rated as highly (in terms of public appreciation) as Beethoven and Mozart and Bach.

Just look at CD sales or CD stocks. The answer is as plain as a pike staff that Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Handel, Tchaikovsky etc are definitely in the next tier down, in terms of popular rating or "appreciation". With this lot you pays your money and takes your choice as to who's best.
Last edited by Sapphire on Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Marc » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:44 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Marc wrote:There is this unique combination of melody and melancholy.
That's one of the things I love about Tchaikovsky :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Quite.

Unique, but in a different, unique way.
OK?

Here's looking at you, Karl,

Marc.

:)

PS: aimez-vous Brahms?

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:10 pm

Saphire wrote:I thought it was self-evident that Brahms is not rated as highly (in terms of public appreciation) as Beethoven and Mozart and Bach.

Just look at CD sales or CD stocks. The answer is as plain as a pike staff that Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Handel, Tchaikovsky etc are definitely in the next tier down, in terms of popular rating or "appreciation". With this lot you pays your money and takes your choice as to who's best.
You've still mentioned an assemblage that would put any pretence at Olympus in any art in any other civilization to utter shame.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:28 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:[This is another wonderful "Buckism" (Holy Trinity) and I just love responding to these things!
We will always hear from Jack on this subject, and frankly I don't mind, for there are worse fixations than loving Schumann, even to the point of (falsely) regarding him as Brahms' master rather than mentor.

It would be very nice if we could take seriously any tribute paid by Brahms to Schumann purely as a composer. In fact, I have to think Brahms expended considerable emotional energy trying to figure out how he could avoid equivocating about Schumann, to whom in a sense not quite musical he owed everything. Then there is that Clara business.

Linearity is a natural way of bringing order to a process that unfolds over time--natural in the sense that it is the way humans impose order on things. It is rarely the case in art (or many other areas of human endeavor), and certainly not in music, except as a gross over-simplification. Brahms actually swerved around Schumann, sought inspiration from Schubert, thought that Bach was onto something he could make use of, cringed at the thought of Beethoven, and eventually, by what we can only consider a golden miracle, managed an achievement granted only to a handful of the very greatest artists.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Gregg
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Post by Gregg » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:21 pm

James wrote:most of the really serious musicians I've met or have ever known have all unanimously liked Brahms & JS Bach, HOWEVER, not the case with regards to both Beethoven and especially Mozart...

most of the women i know or have known, (heck, could extend that to MOST PEOPLE I know), don't really like music music, especially classical music of any kind. I have found the gals seem to prefer stuff like Air Supply and Michael Bolton. nuff said.
I have to stick up for James. At least the first paragraph as it's my experience as well.

As to the second, well "gals" raised a red flag. I would be the first person to agree that the natural inclination of the average adult is to love muzak - and so much pop music is future muzak. i just have a thing about "gals."

You might need to go out to more clubs, in my youth I remember many punky/new wave women who were totally into the music and were anything but the Muzak fans we find in the mainstream. But, I agree that contemporary music is an entertainment form, not an art form, and once it ceases to entertain, most people want background music.



Gregg

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Post by Niki » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:04 pm

Reading the last issue of ARG I looked at their index of new / re-issued CD's reviewed in 2006. Not surprising to see Mozart in a class of his own leading by a margin of 2:1 the next tier B,B,B. The surprising thing is that Brahms has an equal number of CD's reviewed by ARG, and maybe even ahead of Bach Beethoven !

Although by no means this is an absolute measure of popularity or any type of rank, but it is a large enough sample to give someone an indication of what record Co. believe to attract their customers.

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Post by Wallingford » Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:03 pm

Brahms? He's one of THE giants. He wrote pure musician's music, and he penned a much higher percentage of "absolute" (i.e., non-programmatic) music than others of his generation. As durable as they come.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
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Post by diegobueno » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:23 am

James wrote:most of the really serious musicians ive met or have ever known have all unamiously liked Brahms & JS Bach, HOWEVER, not the case with regards to both Beethoven and especially Mozart...

diegobuono wrote:I have known some non-musicians (all of them women for some reason) who were less than enthusiastic about Brahms even though they liked classical music in general. Has anyone else noted a gender bias in dislike for Brahms?
most of the women i know or have known, (heck, could extend that to MOST PEOPLE I know), don't really like music music, especially classical music of any kind. I have found the gals seem to prefer stuff like Air Supply and Michael Bolton. nuff said. :(
True about most people in general. I was thinking about women that otherwise like classical music. My vantage point may be skewed because I tend to associate mostly with musicians or people who have a strong interest in classical music. Within this group, I see a stronger interest in Brahms among men than women. My first wife called Brahms "headache music", although I did catch her off guard once while listening to the 4th symphony. She came in during the scherzo and said "hey, what's that?" and when I told her she said "gee, that's pretty lively for Brahms". Owlice only likes Brahms as long as it's for piano. I'm going to have to work on her to get her up to speed on the symphonies. :)

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:27 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:[This is another wonderful "Buckism" (Holy Trinity) and I just love responding to these things!
We will always hear from Jack on this subject, and frankly I don't mind, for there are worse fixations than loving Schumann, even to the point of (falsely) regarding him as Brahms' master rather than mentor.

It would be very nice if we could take seriously any tribute paid by Brahms to Schumann purely as a composer. In fact, I have to think Brahms expended considerable emotional energy trying to figure out how he could avoid equivocating about Schumann, to whom in a sense not quite musical he owed everything.
Brahms was quite serious in his comments on Schumann---and I agree that Schumann was no more Brahms' "master" than Schubert or Wagner was Bruckner's "master".

I love Brahms' greatest masterpieces as much as Schumann's----and KNOW them equally as well. Many of his highly touted chamber works are thoroughly and expertly crafted compositions of a very high order. Like those of Haydn, admirably conceived.

But often they plod along in a pedestrian manner and lack that red-hot inspiration that is Handel - Mozart - Beethoven - Schumann---occasionally Schubert, too.

It was in the symphonies and Violin Concerto that Brahms did his most inspired and endearing work.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by johnshade » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:27 am

Wallingford wrote:Brahms? ... he penned a much higher percentage of "absolute" (i.e., non-programmatic) music than others of his generation.
Are you implying that absolute music is superior to program music? Opera is ultimate program music. In my opinion Mozart's greatest music is his operas. There are many composers who wrote symphonic poems that are equal in quality to music without a stated program although the composer may have had a program in mind. Don't get me wrong I love so-called absolute music, e. g., Bartok, Bach, and Beethoven (which reminds me, what about his Symphony #6?). This is an old argument and I don't think we will come to an answer to this question: absolute music or programatic music? Personally I like both.
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:11 am

Jack Kelso wrote:It was in the symphonies and Violin Concerto that Brahms did his most inspired and endearing work.
Oh, I don't know, Jack; that there German Requiem is highly inspired, and much endears me :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:31 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:[This is another wonderful "Buckism" (Holy Trinity) and I just love responding to these things!
We will always hear from Jack on this subject, and frankly I don't mind, for there are worse fixations than loving Schumann, even to the point of (falsely) regarding him as Brahms' master rather than mentor.
A characteristic remark, John, and I want to look at it just a little.

I enjoy Jack’s enthusiasm here, and in the first place he does us all a good musical service by chipping away at the comparative neglect of Schumann.

Now, one of Jack’s theses does seem to be that Schumann is in fact a greater composer than Brahms, or at the least, as great a composer. At first blush, it is impertinent, because it obvious sets itself athwart Received Opinion. And John readily seeks to set it aside, simply by invoking the weight of that Received Opinion.

I should say that I do not as yet embrace Jack’s idea, but I do not dismiss it, either. I think it is an idea well worth the consideration.

And how, apart from simply evoking Received Opinion, might the question be tried?

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
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Post by johnshade » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:31 am

karlhenning wrote:...German Requiem is highly inspired, and much endears me...
I too am very fond of Ein deutsches Requiem. Is this not program music?
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

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Post by diegobueno » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:29 pm

Doesn't Received Opinion value Schumann's Lieder more highly than Brahms'?

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Post by rogch » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:52 pm

Although Brahms is still a very popular composer, it is my impression that he does not have quite the same position as 20-30 years ago. Whatever the origin is of the expression "the three great Bs", it was used by many people. I don't hear if often these days.

If Brahms' position among composers has weakened a little, i think we have to see it as part of a bigger picture (but we must not forget he is still very popular of course). For many years the romantic reportoire dominated the world of classical music even more than today. 50 years ago there was no doubt who the most popular composer was: Beethoven. And for many people Brahms was Beethoven's successor and not far behind in quality. It is no coincidence that if you want to compare recordings by the old conductors, it is very often done by comparing their Beethoven or Brahms recordings.

During the last decades there has been an increasing interest in music from the 18th century. Mozart has always been a very popular composer of course. But now he is probably as popular as Beethoven, that has not always been the case. The interest for baroque music seems almost unlimited and some modern composers are not as controversial as they once were. My point is simply that the competition has become very strong. Brahms has always been famous for his craftsmanship, but now we can listen to zillion records of 18th century music that distinguishes itself by just that. So i don't think people think more negatively about Brahms than they used to, but his position is not as unique as it was.
Roger Christensen

"Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters"
Artur Schnabel

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:21 pm

johnshade wrote:
karlhenning wrote:...German Requiem is highly inspired, and much endears me...
I too am very fond of Ein deutsches Requiem. Is this not program music?
Yes, though it seems that Wallingford wants that to mean that it is somehow "less durable."

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by piston » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:42 pm

RebLem wrote:
piston wrote:Hello! I wouldn't let "impressionistic evidence" diminish my love for a particular composer. I also love Brahms and Dvorak and they are both situated on a higher "level" than other composers whose music is also dear to my heart. So, you're in very good company with both of these composers.
Just a thought for the purpose of discussion. Do you think it took Dvorak longer than Brahms to compose his greatest symphonies or do you also love Dvorak's early, 1-5 symphonies?
RebLem wrote:
<<The Dvorak symphonies are divided into two types, and the 5th is not part of the "early" symphonies stylistically. The first four were written under Wagnerian influence, the last five under the influence of Brahms. As a matter of fact, Dvorak got his big break when he sent some of his work to Brahms for comment. Brahms was so impressed that he persuaded his publisher, Simrock, to take on Dvorak, too. >>

Well, I'm replying in a slightly more informed manner that I'm still relying on my instinct here. Number 3 (composed in 1873), number 4 (composed in 1874), number 5 (composed in 1875), and number 6 (composed in 1880). Of these, the big hit was number six, so popular in fact that Dvorak's publisher played a little trick on Dvorak's new fans:

Because the 6th symphony was such a hit, Hans Richter and others asked for more symphonies by Dvorák so strongly that even Simrock was willing to publish two new symphonies. The only symphony at hand besides the 7th was this, the 5th. Simrock didn't care, now the time was right to sell symphonic music. Of course Simrock didn't want to give this work the correct opusnumber, because people might be worried about the lower number, so he published it as the third symphony and gave it a high opusnumber. The work is also known as Dvorák's "Pastorale"

What do I hear in the fifth? Beethoven, mostly.
cheers
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Post by Opus132 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:29 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: Brahms was quite serious in his comments on Schumann---and I agree that Schumann was no more Brahms' "master" than Schubert or Wagner was Bruckner's "master".

I love Brahms' greatest masterpieces as much as Schumann's----and KNOW them equally as well. Many of his highly touted chamber works are thoroughly and expertly crafted compositions of a very high order. Like those of Haydn, admirably conceived.

But often they plod along in a pedestrian manner and lack that red-hot inspiration that is Handel - Mozart - Beethoven - Schumann---occasionally Schubert, too.

It was in the symphonies and Violin Concerto that Brahms did his most inspired and endearing work.

Tschüß,
Jack
By 'inspired' i take you mean easier to listen to. Brahms chamber music is not as catchy as that of other composers and it seems to be taking a huge toll in popularity because of that.

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:43 pm

rogch wrote:Although Brahms is still a very popular composer, it is my impression that he does not have quite the same position as 20-30 years ago. Whatever the origin is of the expression "the three great Bs", it was used by many people. I don't hear if often these days.
The three Bs thing comes from Hanslick. The alleged popularity of this composer is a fabrication of the absolutists who looked upon Brahms as the greatest champion of their cause (whether he saw himself in that position is a different matter) and did their best to expand his reputation.

In truth the 'people' of the times were relatively cold to his work. When he wasn't considered old fashioned he was still a difficult composer and many were either perplexed or outright confused by much of his music. He also wasn't fond of promoting himself and hated giving concerts, which is how people got famous back then.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:10 am

Opus132 wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Brahms was quite serious in his comments on Schumann---and I agree that Schumann was no more Brahms' "master" than Schubert or Wagner was Bruckner's "master".

I love Brahms' greatest masterpieces as much as Schumann's----and KNOW them equally as well. Many of his highly touted chamber works are thoroughly and expertly crafted compositions of a very high order. Like those of Haydn, admirably conceived.

But often they plod along in a pedestrian manner and lack that red-hot inspiration that is Handel - Mozart - Beethoven - Schumann---occasionally Schubert, too.

It was in the symphonies and Violin Concerto that Brahms did his most inspired and endearing work.

Tschüß,
Jack
By 'inspired' i take you mean easier to listen to. Brahms chamber music is not as catchy as that of other composers and it seems to be taking a huge toll in popularity because of that.
No, I meant what I said.

Certainly the Handel Concerti grossi, the Beethoven "late quartets" or the Schumann Violin Sonatas (as examples) are not "easy to listen to", but they contain ideas and say something, speak to us emotionally. Some of Brahms' material seems arid and labored.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:29 am

karlhenning wrote:
johnshade wrote:
karlhenning wrote:...German Requiem is highly inspired, and much endears me...
I too am very fond of Ein deutsches Requiem. Is this not program music?
Yes, though it seems that Wallingford wants that to mean that it is somehow "less durable."

Cheers,
~Karl
Nonsense! A requiem is NOT program music, even if Mahler stated that "all music written after Beethoven is 'program music'".

Program music does not have to be less durable. Berlioz' "Herold In Italy" is frankly program music---and is original, durable and wonderful. The same holds for Smetana's "Ma Vlast" and "Haakon Jarl" (and the other Swedish tone-poems). Just about everything Richard Strauss wrote was program music.

Karl---the case of Schumann in America is FAR different than here in Germany, where he is regarded among the greatest of masters. By the end of February, the "Rhenish" Symphony will have been played three times by three seperate ensembles in Mannheim alone; the Piano Concerto, the "Manfred" Overture, the Konzertstück für 4 Hörner und Orchester, the Fourth Symphony have all been heard (or will be) this season....and that's not counting the piano and song recitals or chamber music concerts.

His "Mass in C", op. 147 and Requiem, op. 148 contain things just as wonderful as Brahms' "German Requiem", which is far more popular....

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Brahms - not as appreciated as Beethoven, Mozart... (?)

Post by burnitdown » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:47 am

danglam wrote:it seems to me (this is what I got to thinking after hearing a lot of talks) that Brahms is not considered at the same "level" as our (justifiably) beloved Mozart, Beethoven etc.
You're right -- and think how Schumann and Bruckner feel.

Mozart gets way too much press. People pay more attention to external form than anything else.

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Post by Teresa B » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:28 am

Well, here's one female music-lover who is fond of Brahms. I didn't know much Brahms until I was a teenager and I heard Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic play the Symphony no 1, and was transfixed.

After that I got to know more of his works, and started to study the wonderful late piano pieces. I have found these pieces to express every imaginable emotion, and they get better the longer you know them.

All the best,
Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

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