Johannes Brahms


01To The Great Joachim20100830

In the first of five programmes Donald Macleod begins with Brahms's own annus mirabilis - 12 extraordinary months from 1853-4 when his career went stratosphericm, but which ended with the tragic suicide attempt of his great friend and mentor Robert Schumann.

We begin with perhaps the most unusual work in Brahms's entire output: the rare Hymn To The Veneration Of The Great Joachim! - a boozy musical joke written for the composer's new best buddy.

Donald Macleod explores Brahms's annus mirabilis of 1853-4.

02Werther's Woes...and First Maturity20100831

After the shattering suicide attempt of his mentor Robert Schumann, Brahms didn't publish a new work for nearly six years - a wretched period in the career of music's new hottest property.

Yet the flirty attentions of the composer's much-beloved Hamburg Ladies' Choir finally rejuvenated his creative juices in 1859, at the tender age of 26.

In this second programme episode, Donald Macleod explores Brahms's renewed creative maturity, beginning with a rare work for 'his ladies' accompanied by harp and horns.

Donald Macleod on Brahms's return to publishing new work after Schumann's suicide attempt.

03Singing In The Rain20100901

Everyone knows that Brahms struggled with his First Symphony for years - terrified of failing to live up to the great Beethoven.

Much less well-known is that he tore his hair out over the other great genre dominated by his hero - the String Quartet - quite literally wallpapering his bedroom with his failed attempts.

In the third programme of this series Donald Macleod takes us through two movements from Brahms's rarely-performed and oft-maligned First String Quartet, as well as a complete performance of his beautiful and lyrical first Violin Sonata, inspired by thoughts of his great lost love, Clara Schumann, among the falling rain.

Donald Macleod explores Brahms's First Violin Sonata, inspired by Clara Schumann.

04The Joachim Case20100902

After 20 years of turbulent friendship, the relationship between Brahms and Joseph Joachim finally snapped at the beginning of the 1870s.

But for once it wasn't the fault of the infamously rude and argumentative composer.

Donald Macleod explores the story of one of Brahms's most noble actions - his support for Joachim's wife in their tumultuous divorce case.

He also introduces complete performances of solo sonatas for violin and cello, as well as a rare love song for alto, viola and piano, sung by Kathleen Ferrier.

Donald Macleod explores the story of Brahms's support for Joachim's wife in their divorce.

05Fraulein Klarinette
05 LASTFraulein Klarinette20100903

1891 - nearly 60 years old now - old man Brahms, resplendent with a great white beard, is in love again.

But this time the object of his affections isn't a woman, but a clarinet.

In this final programme in the seires Donald Macleod concludes by taking us through Brahms's last - and perhaps greatest - chamber works: his two clarinet sonatas and clarinet quintet.

Donald Macleod introduces three of Brahms's nostalgic late works for clarinet.