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Music / Johannes Brahms

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Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer of the Romantic Era.

Like many other prominent composers, Brahms 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 First Symphony, which is the unofficial theme for his home city of Hamburg, and his Hungarian Dances, especially the fifth. Pop culture fans will instantly recognize his lullaby.


He is mentioned as being dead in the song "Decomposing Composers" by Michael Palin sang on Monty Python's Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.

Tropes present in Brahms' work:

  • Bookends:
    • Ein deutsches Requiem starts and ends with the same word, selig (blessed).
    • Symphony No. 3 starts and ends on an F major chord.
  • Romanticism: Brahms' music belongs decidedly to the Romantic era, but he represented a more traditionalist strain of Romanticism that followed Baroque and Classical composers such as Haydn and Bach, disputing the ideology of more florid composers such as Wagner, Liszt, and Strauss as too undisciplined. In particular, Brahms refused to compose programmatic music that relied on external narratives, writing only "absolute music" such as sonatas, symphonies, and chamber music. The dispute has been called "The War of the Romantics".
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  • Shout-Out: The composer's Academic Festival Overture, written in response to the honorary doctorate he received from the University of Breslau, quotes four songs frequently associated with German student academic life at the time: "Fuchslied," "Wir hatten gebauet ein stattliches Haus," "Der Landesvater," and "Gaudeamus igitur." All were drinking or initiation songs at one point, though the last by then had been co-opted for use at college graduation ceremonies.
  • Standard Snippet: His lullaby, perhaps better known in the west as "Lullaby and Goodnight," is often used in movies and shows where a character is sleepy or preparing to go to sleep. More often than not, the melody will be played on a music box or glockenspiel.