(7 May 1833 –- 3 April 1897) was a German composer of the Romantic Era. Like many other prominent composers, he moved to Vienna and reached the height of his career there. During his time, he was known as a "Classical Romantic", as his music was heavily influenced by the Classical Era, which put emphasis on unity of form and development of short, open-ended motives. It says something about Brahms' talents when he was compared to Ludwig van Beethoven
. In his youth, Brahms was the protégé of another famous Romantic composer, Robert Schumann
, for a short time and had a strong friendship with Schumann's wife, Clara.
Classical fans probably best know him for his Hungarian Dances, especially the fifth. Pop culture fans will instantly recognize his lullaby
Tropes present in Brahms' life and work:
- Celibate Hero: Brahms started out wanting to marry and have children, and he enjoyed the company of women and liked children, but as he told it himself, when he was the right age to marry his work wasn't very successful and he didn't want to have to burden a wife with being married to an unsuccessful composer. By the time he was successful, he felt too old and too set in his ways. He did have a very intense relationship with Clara Schumann, but she was 14 years older than him and it's doubtful whether it was anything other than platonic.
- Deadpan Snarker: He was famous for this. When he and a friend played his cello sonata, the friend complained that he couldn't hear himself play the cello part over the volume of Brahms' piano. Brahms replied "Lucky you." On another occasion, composer Max Bruch played him a new composition and showed him the manuscript afterwards. Brahms' only comment was "I like the paper."
- Eccentric Mentor: Brahms had one in the form of Robert Schumann, although Schumann wasn't so much eccentric as mentally ill, eventually committing himself to a mental hospital after a series of suicide attempts and dying there at the age of 46.
- I Was Quite a Looker: He was quite handsome in his youth◊ and far different from the general perception that most people would have of him, with the Santa Clausy beard.
- Lovable Rogue: Brahms' status as a Celibate Hero enabled him to largely get away with being one of these, especially later in his life. He once greeted a male friend off the train by giving him a huge hug, then looked at him and said "Oh, sorry, I thought you were your wife." This period was, however, around the beginning of the suffragette movement and Ethel Smyth (a young Englishwoman who was a keen suffragette and who went on to be a major composer herself) noted that Brahms was only nice to women he thought attractive.
- Must Have Caffeine: Brahms was addicted to coffee.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Brahms was a professional musician from early youth and it's fair to say that constant hours of playing the piano meant that he wasn't always the most charming and polite person in the room.
- Worthy Opponent: For Brahms it was Richard Wagner, although it's more that their respective fanbases considered each to be the Arch-Enemy of the other. Brahms actually liked and admired a lot of Wagner's music, even though he disliked Wagner's cult of personality; Wagner did not exactly return the compliment, but he did send Brahms a copy of Das Rheingold.