Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was one of the most celebrated composers of the nineteenth century. A native of Hamburg, he settled in Vienna in 1871. Like Beethoven – another famous German composer who came to call the Austrian capital home – Brahms laboured long and hard over musical composition. A strong advocate for the structural integrity of music, he devoted great care and attention to musical form, structure and logic. He held off writing a symphony until he felt fully comfortable writing for orchestra. Thus, his Symphony No 1 (1876) was preceded by two Serenades (1858 and 1859), the Piano Concerto No 1 (1859), A German Requiem (1868) and the Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn (1873). Influential Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick was one of Brahms’s strongest supporters, finding in his music an antidote to what he believed were the deplorable ‘innovations’ of the other leading German composer of the time, Richard Wagner.
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