Brahms: Inspiration or perspiration?

Poor old Brahms sometimes finds himself facing undue criticism. Despite being widely recognized as one of the greatest composers in history, some people encounter challenges when trying to connect with his music. Is it due to its complexity? Or perhaps a perceived lack of emotional resonance? Unlike Tchaikovsky, who wears his heart openly in his compositions, Brahms, though a romantic, maintains a certain emotional restraint. He refrains from composing music that adheres to a storyline or consistently conveys a specific mood or sentiment. Why was he so cautious about revealing his inner thoughts?

In this day course, our objective is to reveal the authentic Brahms—the man concealed behind the mysterious beard. We’ll experience some of his most famous compositions, as well as a selection of lesser-known treasures and we’ll use all of them to illustrate the narrative of his life and the era he lived in.

We’ll uncover his human vulnerabilities and trace the twisting paths of his love life, a tale that could easily rival a Hollywood plot. Be prepared to encounter a complex yet endearing individual who dedicated everything to his craft. Approach the music of this imperfect genius with a fresh perspective, and in doing so, unlock the brilliance embedded within these magnificent works.

Musical examples will include the German Requiem, the Violin Concerto, the First Piano Concerto, the Hungarian Dances, the Symphonies and various piano solos, lieder and chamber works.


Course Details

This course finished on 14 October 2023