Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

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Episodes

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01A Messenger from God20141006

01A Messenger from God2014100620150831 (R3)

Donald Macleod recounts the first meeting between Brahms and Clara Schumann.

01A Messenger from God2014100620150831 (R3)

Donald Macleod recounts the first meeting between Brahms and Clara Schumann.

01A Messenger from God20141006

01A Messenger from God2014100620150831 (R3)

For Johannes Brahms they were musical heroes who might just deign to hear out this unknown composer hoping to make his mark; for Robert and Clara Schumann the handsome young man was 'a messenger sent from God'. When he first called at their Düsseldorf home, little could Brahms foresee the extent to which their lives life would become inextricably connected. Donald Macleod tells the story of the first encounter between Brahms and Clara Schumann, who would become a lifelong friend, critic and inspiration.

01A Messenger from God2014100620150831 (R3)

For Johannes Brahms they were musical heroes who might just deign to hear out this unknown composer hoping to make his mark; for Robert and Clara Schumann the handsome young man was 'a messenger sent from God'. When he first called at their Düsseldorf home, little could Brahms foresee the extent to which their lives life would become inextricably connected. Donald Macleod tells the story of the first encounter between Brahms and Clara Schumann, who would become a lifelong friend, critic and inspiration.

01A Messenger From God2014100620150831 (R3)

Donald Macleod recounts the first meeting between Brahms and Clara Schumann.

For Johannes Brahms they were musical heroes who might just deign to hear out this unknown composer hoping to make his mark; for Robert and Clara Schumann the handsome young man was 'a messenger sent from God'. When he first called at their Düsseldorf home, little could Brahms foresee the extent to which their lives life would become inextricably connected. Donald Macleod tells the story of the first encounter between Brahms and Clara Schumann, who would become a lifelong friend, critic and inspiration.

Hungarian Dance Wo01 no. 3

Cédric Tiberghien, piano

Piano Sonata No 1 in C, Op 1

1st movement: Allegro

Anatol Ugorski, piano

Scherzo in E flat minor, Op 4

Dejan Lazic, piano

Songs, Op 3

1. Liebestreu

2. Liebe and Fruhling

Spanisches Lied, Op 6 no 1

Jessye Norman, soprano

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone

Daniel Barenboim, piano

Piano Sonata No 3 in F minor, Op 5

2nd Movement, Andante espressivo

3rd Movement, Scherzo

Murray Perahia, piano.

01Brahms The Romantic20121217

Donald Macleod focuses on Brahms's vocal music written when he was a young man.

German 19th century composer Johannes Brahms is perhaps best known for his orchestral and chamber music, but he was also a prolific writer of vocal works. This week, Donald Macleod focuses his attention on music for the voice in all its guises, including some of Brahms's unjustly neglected folksongs, lieder, vocal quartets and choral works.

As a young man, Brahms, like many of his contemporaries, fell under the spell of Romanticism and all the heady literature that erupted in that era. In those formative years, he had the opportunity to work with two choirs which enabled him not only to hone his conducting skills, but to develop his craft as a composer. During this time he produced a stream of choral works including three a cappella part-songs full of romantic images; a group of colourful choral songs for the unusual combination of women's voices, two horns and a harp and, at the other emotional extreme, an intense funeral song with dark-hued accompaniment from wind and timpani.

01Early Years *2005111420070108

1/5.

Early Years

The young Brahms was clearly destined for greatness, but his early career was helped along by a series of significant friendships.

Donald Macleod traces his journey from jobbing pianist to rising star.

Meine Liebe ist grün, Op 63/5

Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo)

Gabriel Dobner (piano)

Clarinet Sonata No 1, 4th movt.

Richard Stoltzman (clarinet)

Richard Goode (piano)

Hungarian Dances Nos 1, 3 and 10

London Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

Violin Sonata No 1, 1st Movt.

Pinchas Zukerman (violin)

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Four Ballades, Op 10

Stephen Hough (piano).

01To The Great Joachim20080922

Donald Macleod explores Brahms's chamber and instrumental works, focusing on his annus mirabilis of 1853-4, which saw the creation of a rare, boozy birthday tribute to his new friend, the great violinist Joseph Joachim.

Hymn To The Veneration Of The Great Joachim!

Alpe Adria Ensemble

Hungaroton HCD31519

Track 2

Hungarian Dance No 1 in G (excerpt)

Joseph Joachim (violin)

OPAL CD9851

Track 4

Piano Sonata No 1 in C, Op 1 (excerpt)

Svistoslav Richter (piano)

DECCA 4364572

Tracks 1-2

Scherzo in C Minor (FAE Sonata, WoO 2

Christian Tetzlaff (violin)

Lars Vogt (piano)

EMI CDC5575252

CD1 T11

Piano Trio in B, Op 8 (revised version of 1889) (excerpts)

Florestan Trio

HYPERION CDA672512

Disc 1, Tracks 2-4.

02187620110816

Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1876, when Brahms completed his first symphony.

Donald Macleod takes the microscope to five calendar years in the life and work of Brahms.

Today he looks at 1876, in which Brahms finally managed to complete his first symphony.

02Brahms to the Rescue20141007

02Brahms To The Rescue2014100720150901 (R3)

Donald Macleod focuses on how Brahms began to fall in love with Clara Schumann.

After Robert Schumann attempted to take his life by hurling himself into the swirling waters of the River Rhine, Brahms rushed to comfort Clara, and offer all the emotional support and practical assistance of which he was capable. Donald Macleod continues the story of their friendship, as we find the young composer steadily falling in love with the woman he admired. For her part, we find Clara coming to depend on his support, and his invigorating company, and admitting him into the tiny company of those she was prepared to address as 'Du' rather than 'Sie'.

Piano Trio in B major Op. 8

1st movement, Allegro con brio

Florestan Trio

Ballade, Op. 10 no 3

Carl Friedberg, piano

Variations on a Theme by Schumann, Op. 9

Louis Lortie, piano

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 60

1st movement, Allegro non troppo

Leopold String Trio

Marc-André Hamelin, piano.

02Brahms to the Rescue20141007

02Lover And Loner2005111520070109

Brahms' celebrated love affair with Clara Schumann was just the first of a string of failed relationships with women.

Donald Macleod examines why he never succeeded in his search for true love.

Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann, Op 9 (extract)

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Piano Quartet No 3 in Cm, Op 60, 1st Movt

Artur Rubinstein (piano)

Guarneri Quartet

2 Motets, Op 29

Danish National Radio Choir

Rinaldo (extract)

Steve Davislim (tenor)

Dresden Philharmonic Choir

Ernst-Senff Choir, Berlin

Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

Michel Plasson (conductor)

Sextet No 2, Op 36, Scherzo

Kocian Quartet

Members of the Smetana Quartet (Milan Skampa, Antonin Kohout).

With Donald Macleod.

Brahms's celebrated love affair with Clara Schumann was just the first of a string of failed relationships with women.

Macleod examines why he never succeeded in his search for true love.

Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Op 9 (excerpt)

Piano Quartet No 3, Op 60 (1st mvt)

Artur Rubinstein

Two Motets, Op 29

Rinaldo (excerpt)

Sextet No 2, Op 36 (Scherzo)

Members of the Smetana Quartet.

02Triumph Over Adversity20121218

Donald Macleod introduces works from the years following the death of Brahms's mother.

The death of Brahms's mother provided the stimulus for him to complete a work he'd begun a decade before - a setting of the Requiem. It proved to be a turning point in his career; it was the first large-scale work he brought to fruition and went on to be an enormous success. During the summer following his mother's death, Brahms produced a trio for piano, violin and horn, which contains a touching elegy for his mother. Donald Macleod introduces extracts from these contrasting works, as well as a selection of songs published shortly after the premiere of the Requiem, including his famous Lullaby, and a charming vocal quartet all about the Viennese craze for dancing.

02Werther's Woes...and First Maturity20080923

Donald Macleod explores Brahms's renewed creativity after his six-year hiatus following the suicide attempt of his mentor Robert Schumann.

The attention of Brahms's much-beloved Hamburg Ladies' Choir played a part in his rejuvenation and the programme includes a rare work written for them, which is accompanied by harp and horns.

Es tont ein voller Harfenklang, for female voices, horns and harp, Op 17 No 1

Anthony Halstead, Christian Rutherford (horn)

Delyth Wynne (harp)

Members of the Monteverdi Choir

John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)

PHILIPS 4311522

Track 19

Sextet in B flat for strings, Op 18

Members of the Berlin Philharmonic Octet

PHILIPS 4202562

Tracks 1-4

Horn Trio, Op 40 (excerpts)

Aubrey Brain (horn)

Adolf Busch (violin)

Rudolf Serkin (piano)

TESTAMENT SBT1001

Tracks 3-4.

03A Widow into the Future20141008

03A Widow into the Future2014100820150902 (R3)

Donald Macleod discusses a critical moment in Brahms's relationship with Clara Schumann.

03A Widow into the Future2014100820150902 (R3)

Donald Macleod discusses a critical moment in Brahms's relationship with Clara Schumann.

03A Widow into the Future20141008

03A Widow into the Future2014100820150902 (R3)

With the tragic death of Robert Schumann, Brahms reaches a critical moment in his relationship with Clara - should he offer to make her his wife? Or should he abandon the pursuit, and follow his own course in life? Donald Macleod continues his account of their lifelong (although volatile) friendship, and finds Brahms flirting with other female company, much to the annoyance of his first and only true love.

03A Widow into the Future2014100820150902 (R3)

With the tragic death of Robert Schumann, Brahms reaches a critical moment in his relationship with Clara - should he offer to make her his wife? Or should he abandon the pursuit, and follow his own course in life? Donald Macleod continues his account of their lifelong (although volatile) friendship, and finds Brahms flirting with other female company, much to the annoyance of his first and only true love.

03A Widow Into The Future2014100820150902 (R3)

Donald Macleod discusses a critical moment in Brahms's relationship with Clara Schumann.

With the tragic death of Robert Schumann, Brahms reaches a critical moment in his relationship with Clara - should he offer to make her his wife? Or should he abandon the pursuit, and follow his own course in life? Donald Macleod continues his account of their lifelong (although volatile) friendship, and finds Brahms flirting with other female company, much to the annoyance of his first and only true love.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (1.Maestoso)

Wilhelm Backhaus, piano

Karl Böhm, conductor

Wiener Philharmoniker

Fugue in A flat minor for organ

Robert Parkins on the Flentrop Organ, Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham, USA

Scheiden und Meiden, Op.19 no.2

In der Ferne, Op. 19 no. 3

Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo-soprano

Graham Johnson, piano

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (2. Adagio)

Maurizio Pollini, piano

Staatskapelle Dresden

Christian Thielemann, conductor

Songs for women's chorus, 2 horns and harp:

1. Es toönnt ein vollen Harfenklang, Op.17 no.1

2. Der Gärtner, Op.17 no.3

Rias-Kammerchor

Marcus Creed, director.

03Recognition20121219

Donald Macleod introduces music from Brahms's first decade in Vienna.

At the age of 38, Brahms was offered the post of artistic adviser and conductor to the prestigious Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, giving him access to the finest choir the city had to offer and a full professional symphony orchestra. Brahms was soon attracting a lot of attention and he came to be regarded as the leading composer of the age in the eyes of musical Vienna.

Brahms had long been captivated by the sound of Hungarian folk music and there was nothing he liked better than to listen to the gypsy bands in the cafes and bars of Vienna. Donald Macleod introduces a selection of the Hungarian Dances Brahms had collected over the years, arranged for piano duet. Also, one of the best-loved of his small choral works with orchestra - the Song of Destiny, a group of song settings by one of his favourite poets, Georg Friedrich Daumer, and Brahms's first orchestral work for fourteen years, the St Anthony Variations.

03Singing In The Rain.20080924

Donald Macleod explores Brahms's expressive First Violin Sonata - inspired by thoughts of his great lost love Clara Schumann in the rain - and his rarely-performed (and oft-maligned) First String Quartet.

String Quartet No 1 in C Minor, Op 51 (excerpt)

Alban Berg Quartet

EMI CDS 7548292

Disc 1, Tracks 1-2

Piano Quartet No 3 in C Minor, Op 60 (excerpt)

Emanuel Ax (piano)

Isaac Stern (violin)

Jaime Laredo (viola)

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

SONY CLASSICAL 2K45846

Disc 1, Track 6

Regenlied (Eight Songs, Op 59)

Olaf Baer (baritone)

Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

EMI CDC7497232

Track 28

Sonata No 1 for violin and piano, Op 78

Anne-Sofie Mutter (violin)

Alexis Weissenberg (piano)

EMI CDC7492992

Track 1-3.

03Uncertainty20070110

Schumann had predicted great things for Brahms, but by the early 1860s it was far from certain that the young composer would live up to his early promise

Serenade No 2 in A (Scherzo)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Adrian Boult (conductor)

Four Songs, Op 17

Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Erwin Ortner (conductor)

Geistliches Wiegenlied, Op 91, No 1

Sarah Walker (mezzo)

Paul Silverthorne (viola)

Julian Jacobson (piano)

Trio in E flat, Op 40

Stephen Stirling (horn)

Anthony Marwood (violin)

Susan Tomes (piano).

03Uncertainty *20051116

Robert Schumann had predicted great things for Brahms, but by the early 1860s, it was far from certain that the young composer would live up to his early promise.

With Donald Macleod.

Serenade No 2 in A, Scherzo

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Sir Adrian Boult (conductor)

4 songs, Op 17

Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Erwin Ortner (conductor)

Geistliches Wiegenlied, Op 91, No 1

Sarah Walker (mezzo)

Paul Silverthorne (viola)

Julian Jacobson (piano)

Horn Trio in E flat, Op 40

Stephen Stirling (horn)

Anthony Marwood (violin)

Susan Tomes (piano).

0420121220

Works associated with some of the most important people in Brahms's life.

Brahms regularly fell in and out of love but never married. And, in spite of his sometimes brusque and arrogant manner, he also cultivated many friendships in the course of his life and inspired great loyalty in the friends he made. He formed a particularly strong bond with Elizabeth von Herzogenberg whose musical judgement he greatly valued. Donald Macleod introduces works associated with some of the most important of his friends including a Rhapsody and a vocal quartet dedicated to Elizabeth von Herzogenberg, two songs for voice, viola and piano presented as a peace offering to his lifelong friend the violin Joseph Joachim, and two songs - one woven into Brahms's second violin sonata - for the singer Hermine Spies.

04188620110818

Donald Macleod on the year 1886, which saw Brahms's final symphony and final flirtation.

Donald Macleod takes the microscope to five calendar years in the life and work of Brahms.

Today he looks at the composer's final symphony and final flirtation: 1886.

04Secret Passions2014100920150903 (R3)

Johannes Brahms might have rejected the possibility of marrying Clara Schumann, but that was no reason not to pursue one of her daughters, or indeed to flirt with an entire women's choir! Donald Macleod continues the story of their complex relationship, as youthful passion evolves into mature friendship, and Brahms settles into life in Vienna - and sports a beard. Although frequently strained, their friendship would endure, and would help nurture some of Brahms' most loved masterpieces.

Psalm 13, Op 27

Kodaly Zoltan Female Choir

Ilona Andor, Director

Handel Variations, Op. 24 (Theme; variations 1-4; var 24)

Mikhail Rudy, piano

Liebeslieder Walzer Op. 52

1. Rede Mädchen

2. Am Gesteine rauscht die Flut

3. O die Frauen

Los Angeles Vocal Arts Ensemble

Alto Rhapsody Op. 53

Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano

Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra

Robin Ticciati, conductor

St Anthony Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a,

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan, conductor.

04The Joachim Affair20080925

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

With 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.

Gestille Sehnsucht, for alto voice, viola and piano, Op 91, No 1

Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)

Phyllis Spurr (piano)

Max Gilbert (viola)

DECCA 4212992

Track 5

Cello Sonata No 2 in F, Op 88

Steven Isserlis (cello)

Stephen Hough (piano)

HYPERION CDA67529

Tracks 8-11

Sonata No 3 in D minor for violin and piano, Op 108

Christian Tetzlaff (violin)

Lars Vogt (piano)

EMI CDC5575252

Tracks 7-10.

04The Price Of Success2005111720070111

Brahms did not make allowances for other people in his life or his music.

Macleod explores how this often difficult man won over his audiences to become a highly respected composer.

With Donald Macleod.

Wiegenlied

Thomas Allen (baritone)

Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

Schisksalslied

Altanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra

Robert Shaw (conductor)

Liebeslieder Walzer, Op 52 (excerpts)

Edith Mathis (soprano)

Brigitte Fassbaender (contralto)

Peter Schreier (tenor)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)

Karl Engel, Wolfgang Sawallisch (piano)

Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op 56a

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan (conductor).

Karl Engel, Wolfgang Sawallisch (pianos).

Brahms was never one to make allowances for other people, in his life or his music.

Donald Macleod explores how this often difficult man won over his audiences to become the most respected composer of his era.

Schicksalslied

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Liebeslieder Walzer, Op 52 (selection)

Karl Engel (piano)

Wolfgang Sawallisch (piano)

05Rows And Reconciliation2014101020150904 (R3)

Exploring how, despite their rows, Brahms and Clara Schumann stayed devoted to one another

The bearded and bloated Brahms of caricature continued to be inspired by Clara Schumann, despite a multitude of fleeting passions for other women. As Donald Macleod wraps up his account of their long and frequently troubled friendship, we find them at loggerheads in the late evening of their lives about something relatively trivial (an edition of Robert Schumann's 4th Symphony). Clara becomes jealous of the attentions of Frau Elizabeth von Herzogenberg, and feels snubbed. Nevertheless, through all her many personal tragedies, Johannes Brahms remains a constant support, whilst she remained for him an inspiration throughout his life. Right until the end of their lives, he refers his symphonies to her, and dedicates to her some of his most tender, valedictory piano compositions.

Meine Liebe ist grün, Op. 65 no 5

Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo-soprano

Graham Johnson, piano

Symphony No 3 F op. 90 (II. Andante, III, poco allegretto)

Berliner Philharmoniker

Sir Simon Rattle, conductor

Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor Op. 101 (III. Andante grazioso, IV. Allegro molto)

The Florestan Trio

Clarinet Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 120, No. 2:

I. Allegro amabile

Emma Johnson, clarinet

John Lenehan, piano

Intermezzo in A, Op. 118 No. 2

Intermezzo in C, Op. 119 No.3

Radu Lupu, piano

O Tod, wie bitter bist du (4 Ernste Gesänge, Op.121)

Andreas Schmidt, baritone

Helmut Deutsch, piano.

05Wrestling With Posterity *20051118

By the 1870s, the turbulence of Brahms' early life had been replaced by a comfortable bachelor routine.

Even so, the masterpieces continued to pour forth.

Donald Macleod charts these years, and looks at Brahms' concern with his future biographers.

Intermezzo in Ab, Op 76, No 3

Dinorah Varsi (piano)

Symphony No 1, 1st movt.

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

Lieder und Romanzen, Op 93a; No 2 Das Mädchen; No 4 Fahr wohl; No 5 Der Falke

BBC Singers

Jason Lai (conductor)

Clarinet Sonata No 2

Richard Stoltzman (clarinet)

Richard Goode (piano)

Prelude on O Welt, ich muss dich lassen, Op post 122, No 11

Kevin Bowyer (organ).

05 LAST189320110819

Donald focuses on the year 1893, and Brahms's grand if irascible old age.

Donald Macleod takes the microscope to five calendar years in the life and work of Brahms.

In this final programme he looks at 1893, and a grand if irascible old age.

05 LASTA Last Hurrah20121221

Donald Macleod introduces works from Brahms's final burst of creativity.

The early 1890s saw the deaths of many of Brahms's close friends and family. Thoughts of his own mortality were clearly beginning to weigh on his mind and for some time he'd been talking about giving up composing altogether. But an encounter with the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld changed all that. Brahms was so impressed by the silken beauty of Mühlfeld's playing he was inspired to begin composing again. Donald Macleod introduces works from the final decade of Brahms's life including an extract from his clarinet quintet, a group of his finest part-songs for unaccompanied chorus and his four profound meditations on death.

05 LASTFraulein Klarinette20080926

Donald Macleod introduces three of Brahms' nostalgic late works for clarinet, preceded by a sombre organ chorale.

O Welt, Ich Muss Dich Lassen, Op posth.

122

Robert Parkins (organ)

NAXOS 8550824

Track 13

Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op 115 (excerpt)

Thea King (clarinet)

Gabrieli String Quartet

HYPERION CDA66107

Track 1

Sonata No 1 in F minor for viola and piano, Op 120 (excerpt)

William Primrose (viola)

Rudolf Firkusny (piano)

EMI CDM5660652

Tracks 14-15

Sonata No 2 for clarinet and piano, Op 120

Martin Frost (clarinet)

Roland Pontinen (piano)

BIS BISSACD1353

Tracks 5-8.

05 LASTWrestling With Posterity20070112

With Donald Macleod.

By the 1870s, the turbulence of Brahms' early life had been replaced by a comfortable bachelor routine and the masterpieces continued to pour forth.

Intermezzo in A flat, Op 76, No 3

Dinorah Varsi (piano)

Symphony No 1 (1st mvt)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

Das Madchen; Fahr wohl; Der Falke (Lieder und Romanzen, Op 39a)

BBC Singers

Jason Lai (conductor)

Clarinet Sonata No 2

Richard Stoltzman

Richard Goode (piano)

Prelude on O Welt, ich muss dich lassen

Kevin Bowyer (organ).