his lifetime, Brahms consistently created excellent music largely because
of his strict and meticulous manner of composition. "Go over it over
and over again until there's a bar you CAN improve on," he used to
tell his students. Born in Hamburg, Germany, he began playing the piano
at age six and by 15 was performing in public. Playing in public also
meant playing in brothels to earn a little money early in his young life.
His big break came when he was introduced to Robert
Schumann, who instantly proclaimed Brahms as the new saviour of German
music. Brahms was 20 years old.
Though Brahms was famous early on from his numerous
orchestral works and his piano sonatas, it wasn't until after the 1970s
that he made the high reputation he enjoys today. His First Symphony,
which took him 14 years to complete, was hailed as Beethoven's 10th. He
followed that up with three other symphonies, as well as reknown piano
concertos, and acclaimed chamber music.
Perhaps the most fascination aspect of Brahms career
is the fact that he went against the Romantic gradient that existed during
his time. He preferred the technique and form of the Classical period.
His emotional depth was different from that of Lizst or Tchaikovsky, whom
he criticized, involving more use of musical textures to achieve intrinsic