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#1230665 - 07/12/09 09:21 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: JdhPiano924]  
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Originally Posted by jdhampton924
By that line of thought, I would argue Mendelssohn is also from the classical school.


his first symphonies which were composed at a very young age were an attempt to copy the Viennese classical style, and are also amateur studies of the contrapuntal music found in Bach and Handel, but these pieces do not reflect his mature works were purely romantic, and vastly more significant.

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#1230667 - 07/12/09 09:25 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: anne with numbers]  
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Just out of curiousity - why do you believe that the "sonata allegro" form was not a classical form?

it was indeed developed during the Classical period, and developed through classical composers. However, romantic composers, and even contemporary composers today use this form, so I would not say it is a "classical form".

#1230675 - 07/12/09 09:39 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: anne with numbers]  
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AWN - If Romantic composers sometimes used the sonata form, how can you state that everything they wrote was driven primarily by emotion? Also - which mature works by Mendelssohn, in your opinion, are purely romantic?? Earlier today I was listening to his piano trios (piano, violin and cello). They are wonderful examples of "pure" music.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai CA-65
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#1230679 - 07/12/09 09:52 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Carey]  
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Joining the discussion rather late: I've played some of his shorter pieces and the two Rhapsodies. I really enjoy playing and listening to Brahms but I really have to be "in the mood" for him. I'm especially fond of his first symphony and concerto (first, I think?, I don't remember), but I only listen to them about once a year because I find his music draining and heavy. I find his music to be complex and emotionally exhausting. Just my take...


Best regards,

Deborah
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#1230680 - 07/12/09 09:53 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: anne with numbers]  
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Brahms was keenly interested in literature. He signed his early letters "Junges Kreisler" (The "young" Kreisler, as opposed to the elder - E.T.A. Hoffmann's character)

We forget that the majority of Brahms's output was vocal, and he had a great affinity for poetry and literature. I think Brahms is unfairly labeled a composer of "absolute" music. Just because he chose not to reveal the literary inspirations behind his works doesn't mean they're not there. There are at least five piano works with direct literary ties - the slow movements of the sonatas, the "Edward" Ballade of Op. 10, and the Eb Intermezzo (Op. 117#1)

That Brahms chose to cast his works in classical forms does not exclude the idea that his works were inspired by the Romantic notions of his day.

I think much of the debate over Brahms is the result of gross oversimplification by bad professors teaching bad music appreciation classes from bad textbooks. Brahms's work is often held up as a polar opposite of Liszt and the "New German School." But while there are a great many stylistic and formal differences, there are also a great many philosophical similarities. The broad philosophical and spiritual statements one finds in the symphonic poems and vocal/orchestral works of Liszt, Strauss, Bruckner and Mahler have their counterparts in the Alto Rhapsody, Nänie, the Schicksalslied, and German Requiem.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1230742 - 07/13/09 02:25 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Kreisler]  
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fan must have had a bad day to have unloaded his bag of gloom ... with twittish comments on Brahms works as being:

dull and impotent with faded colours ...
whose mastery is only theoretical and whose humanity was self-serving ...
and then hiding behind the waggish humour of GB Shaw who supposedly wrote that Brahms was "the worst composer of his generation" ...

but then the playwright also said:

"Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of pianoforte recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled".

Any clown who reads smugness into the works of Brahms is in fact simply reflecting a vein of inferiority in their own upmarket makeup ... and needs to grow up.


#1231023 - 07/13/09 03:17 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: argerichfan]  
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I love Brahms although am still of the opinion that Chopin and Beethoven are #1


SantaFe_Player
Heels down, and tickle the bit.
#1231130 - 07/13/09 07:48 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Originally Posted by Andromaque
he is like a gorgeous sophisticated creature or painting that does not speak my language ...

At the risk of being picky, I think Johannes shuffled off this mortal coil a while back and so would not be in a position to know what your language is. However, you know what his is, or you could know. So maybe one could invert your remark as, for example, 'he is like a gorgeous creature whose language I have not yet learned?' Or if you are quite convinced, you could write 'whose language I will never be able to speak', or 'whose language I do not wish to speak'.

Any of the above is fine. The original could possibly suggest whichever word you'd like to choose as the opposite of humility.


Rob
#1231160 - 07/13/09 08:51 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: rrb]  
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rrb
You made me smile. That is a mighty awkwardly crafted paragraph.. You could have stated it simply: you think I am being arrogant or worse, ignorant, for not loving Brahms.
That will nonetheless not change the fact that many people, more and less learned than I am, do not list Brahms as their favorite composer. My opinion reflects by definition my personal relationship to his music (and only some of it as stated throughout the thread), and not an absolute assessment of its worthiness. One would think that would have been obvious to someone as enlightened as you are.

Incidentally, I was browsing through an older issue of Gramophone today and within a few pages, I read two references to Brahms, one describing his muisc as "granitic and indigestible", and the other, by none other than Martha Argerich herself, saying that she never liked Brahms and did not record him. Just another reminder that I , and a few other PWites, are not the only ones wallowing in ignorance apparently..




#1231163 - 07/13/09 09:00 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: rrb]  
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One record Brahms holds in my personal book: The first movement of the second piano concerto has the most wonderful transition from development section to recapitulation.

(Runners-up are the first movement of the Schubert Bb sonata and the first movement of Mahler's 2nd symphony.)

In college I had a friend who used that graceful, profound moment from the Brahms as his answering machine message. With the beep perfectly timed to the reemergence of the main theme. So you always felt a little flushed, like you had just almost witnessed a divine revelation, whenever you called to leave a message about dinner or something.



Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1231164 - 07/13/09 09:00 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: rrb]  
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Per Kreisler - "I think much of the debate over Brahms is the result of gross oversimplification by bad professors teaching bad music appreciation classes from bad textbooks."


Kreisler - Excellent observation !!

Last edited by carey; 07/13/09 10:03 PM.

Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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#1231165 - 07/13/09 09:01 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Betelgeuse, baby!
Originally Posted by Andromaque
Incidentally, I was browsing through an older issue of Gramophone today and within a few pages, I read two references to Brahms, one describing his muisc as "granitic and indigestible", and the other, by none other than Martha Argerich herself, saying that she never liked Brahms and did not record him.

Huh. That must've been from sometime back, since Argerich has recorded the First Piano Quartet, the Haydn Variations and the Sonata for two pianos.


Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.
#1231168 - 07/13/09 09:06 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Janus K. Sachs]  
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Funy Sachs. you beat me to it. I was actually looking it up because I thought I remembered listening to her Haydn variations (for 2 pianos) at last year's Lugano festival, although that was live. . Do you know the dates of the recordings. I wonder if some of what she said was "mistranslated", or I misread it. i do not have the issue with me to quote her accurately.
It was an interview with Kovacevich.

Last edited by Andromaque; 07/13/09 09:21 PM.
#1231175 - 07/13/09 09:19 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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I don't have sufficient verbal skills to put that thought into more precise language; it's a feeling, a reaction to Brahms' music that I can't articulate. There's a certain gravitas, a seriousness, a complexity and a formality of structure that all perhaps stem, in part, from the relatively thick texture of his writing ... Rather than adding more of what his music does not have, perhaps I could add that his music strikes me has having a strong "introspective" character.


actually you articulated this very well. and what you describe is part of what i love about brahms.

i'm a huge brahms fan and have been ever since i was a child. i have never developed a taste for wagner or liszt, and think of them as lacking subtlety and greatly overblown. i like mahler even less.

brahms is incredibly difficult to play well. perhaps that is why he is so controversial with musicians. he is difficult to understand, musically, incredibly complex, with rich ideas that are not immediately apparent from reading the score.

when someone performing brahms does not really understand brahms, you get bad brahms. very few musicians really seem to understand brahms, judging from most of the live performances i have heard. maybe that is why brahms gets a bad rap. you just haven't heard the right performances.

the fact that i can't play brahms well, however, has never stopped me from totally adoring his work. he was my favorite composer when i was growing up, and is still one of my favorites, alongside bach, mozart, and schubert (to give you an idea of the general tenor of my tastes).

i only got to liking chopin after i took up the piano. he is less interesting to listen to than to play. perhaps with brahms it is the reverse, unless you are a very gifted musician.

the OP asked for some of our favorite brahms works and performances.

my absolutely most favorite performance of the first symphony is an old deutsche grammophon recording with karl bohm conducting the berlin philharmonic. he takes this magisterial work at just the right pace, whereas most of the recordings i've heard are much too plodding.

the clarinet/viola sonatas are incredible. almost modern in their forms.

the piano quintet--there's a great recording with arthur rubinstein and the guaneri quartet--plenty of spontaneity and passion for you, guaranteed.

of course i love the piano works, especially the intermezzos. radu lupu is a great brahms interpreter for these.

richter playing the second piano concerto.

the second symphony is an especial favorite. i find his symphonic works filled with so much love, and i definitely hear the echoes of the alps in them. brahms was a great nature lover.

all his chamber music works, for that matter, i recommend.

you have to remember that everything he wrote was a symphony. even the solo works are very symphonic in their layerings.

of his vocal works, i especially love the "alto rhapsody" and i recommend the old ace of clubs recording with the british singer kathleen ferrier.

so, yes, you have a brahms fan here.


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#1231176 - 07/13/09 09:19 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Betelgeuse, baby!
Originally Posted by Andromaque
Funy Sachs. you beat me to it. I was actually looking it up because I thought I remembered listening to her Haydn variations (for 2 pianos) at last year's Lugano festival, although that was live. . Do you know the dates of the recordings. I wonder if some of what she said was "mistranslated". It was an interview with Kovacevich.

Let's see -- her recording of the Sonata, the Waltzes, and the Haydn Variations with Rabinovitch on Teldec dates from 1994. She recorded the Sonata again (with Zilberstein), which was released on EMI in 2003. The recording of the First Piano Quartet (DG) was released in 2004.

Oh, and apparently Argerich forgot that one of her first recordings (her "debut" recital on DG, which dates from the 60s if memory serves) includes the Op. 79 Rhapsodies.


Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.
#1231191 - 07/13/09 10:18 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Janus K. Sachs]  
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I found the interview online and I admit I read it too fast. While the conversation started about her and Kovacevich's discographies, she did not exactly say that she did not record Brahms, (duh.. I should have known I guess and probably should not have posted about it so quickly)..Apologies!
..
Excerpts from the Gramophone interview :

The pair discuss their discographies and the fact that there are hardly any overlaps in repertoire - almost as though Kovacevich has done one part and Argerich the other. What they wonder, determines these chokes of what you play and what you don't? Character? Temperament?
5K Who knows?
MA I think it's temperament. I think l have a youthful temperament. Not in life, but when I play. I think so
JN So you choose repertoire that reflects that? I mean, Brahms isn't going to do it for you.
MA No, he doesn't.
5K Brahms is your weak spot. For me, it's Haydn.
MA I like Haydn! Very much.
SKlknow.
M A Haydn is wonderful - he's very youthful and humorous. In life I am not as humorous, for instance, as you Stephen. You have an extraordinary sense of humour. But in music I like humour. This I got from [Friedrich] Gulda. "

Last edited by Andromaque; 07/13/09 10:18 PM.
#1231220 - 07/13/09 11:39 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: btb]  
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Originally Posted by btb
fan must have had a bad day to have unloaded his bag of gloom ... with twittish comments on Brahms works as being:

dull and impotent with faded colours ...
whose mastery is only theoretical and whose humanity was self-serving ...
and then hiding behind the waggish humour of GB Shaw who supposedly wrote that Brahms was "the worst composer of his generation" ...

Any clown who reads smugness into the works of Brahms is in fact simply reflecting a vein of inferiority in their own upmarket makeup ... and needs to grow up.

Now, now, btb, my good mate, a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge.

Recently posted here was a wonderful YouTube of Hough playing the D minor concerto, and perhaps that reignited my love.

Unlike, say, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner or Elgar (just a few examples), there are some moments wherein Brahms doesn't 'work' for me, and that happened the other night wherein I found the Brahms 2nd symphony more than a bit exasperating. Somehow it wasn't working for me: the whole musical argument seemed contrived and lame, the orchestration faded, the self-conscious pretension of profundity.

It is possible for some of us to go through love and hate relationships with the great composers, and I think this is a natural and healthy thing. I have never presented myself on this board as some completely self-evolved master. I have my issues, I have my loves and enthusiasms, I have my blind spots. I am a mortal, and for that I apologize. (I am also young and stupid.)

That said, down through the years there has been some very potent and cogent criticism of Brahms. In some sense he remains as controversial as Liszt, but of course I've never had any issues with Liszt.

A very good friend of mine (pianist, singer, conductor- an infinitely greater musician than I, and much older) frankly HATES Brahms with the exception of the concertos and the requiem. He is not a stupid man, he is probably as fine a musician as most on this board. Life really isn't very simple... I am not about to tell him he is a fool. (I wish I had a fraction of the knowledge of the Wagner operas he has... smokin )



Jason
#1231230 - 07/14/09 12:18 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: argerichfan]  
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Here are two more interesting quotations, in the name of "it takes all kinds." Certainly musically intelligent people hold a variety of strong opinions.

Quote
I have gone through all Brahms by now. All I can say of him is that he's a puny little dwarf with a rather narrow chest... You will be astonished when I tell you where I get more completely bogged down than anywhere else-- in his so-called "developments." It is very seldom he can make anything whatever of his themes, beautiful as they often are.

-Gustav Mahler, letter to Alma, 1904



Quote
It is the purpose of this essay to prove that Brahms, the classicist, the academician, was a great innovator in the realm of musical language; that, in fact, he was a great progressive....

It is important to realize that at a time when all believed in "expression," Brahms, without renouncing beauty and emotion, proved to be a progressive in a field which had not been cultivated for half a century... He did not live on inherited fortune; he made one of his own.

-Schoenberg, from Style and Idea, 1950



(By the way, I'm getting these quotes from a wonderful book called The Composer as Listener, 300 pages of composers writing about other composers' works and styles. Fascinating stuff. Out of print I'm sure, but available for free here .)


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1231262 - 07/14/09 01:42 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
One record Brahms holds in my personal book: The first movement of the second piano concerto has the most wonderful transition from development section to recapitulation.

Seconded.

#1231268 - 07/14/09 01:48 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Ferdinand]  
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And one of the most beautiful slow movements there is - that of the F major cello sonata.


Du holde Kunst...
#1231301 - 07/14/09 07:15 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: currawong]  
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You know it is quite interesting to note the heat and acrimony that some dislike of Brahms music has generated here. If you look at the Schumann thread, quite a few people stated unqualifyingly that they dislike his music, yet very little emotional turmoil has resulted. And Schumann is not exacly a minor player.

#1231316 - 07/14/09 07:49 AM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Andromaque, you are right (and the same thought had occurred to me). But, to be fair, no one who didn't like Schumann ascribed the kinds of traits to his music that have been attributed to Brahms here (unless you count the poster who thinks Schumann's piano concerto sounds like a whiny, ill-bred child; I can't really take that seriously).

Steven

#1231596 - 07/14/09 05:18 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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Originally Posted by Andromaque
That is a mighty awkwardly crafted paragraph.. You could have stated it simply: you think I am being arrogant or worse, ignorant, for not loving Brahms.

I accept using convoluted English, but to make a point different from what your 'simplified statement' implies.

I would never consider anyone arrogant merely because they are not enthusiastic about Brahms, or Beethoven or classical music in general.

My convoluted paragraph was intended to point out the difference between two modes of expression:
a) 'Brahms does not speak my language.'
b) 'I don't connect with Brahms' music.'

In essence a) and b) express the same thing. But in a) 'I' has pride of place. In b) it doesn't.

If you still don't see the point, try replacing 'Brahms' with 'Chekhov', and 'music' with 'plays'. Or pick any well-known and widely respected composer, writer, painter who you do not particularly like.








Rob
#1231665 - 07/14/09 08:00 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Swordfish]  
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Originally Posted by Swordfish
His fourth symphony is one of the most recognizable ever written. The Hungarian Dance No. 5 too.


I was never too fond of orchestral works, but I went on Itunes to hear how recognizable his fourth would be to me. Imagine my suprise when I recognized the snippet from the 3rd movement only because the progressive rock band "Yes" had recorded a synthesizer version of it.

I'm tossing a coin now over downloading this.

#1231722 - 07/14/09 09:54 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Damon]  
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rrb
Let us get over it.. You ought not draw conclusions about pride from a posting on a forum, lest you be prejudiced.. smile


#1231743 - 07/14/09 11:01 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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I thought I'd point out another rather interesting article on the subject:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/962911

In the article, Musgrave presents Brahms as a "postmodern" composer. Most definitions of postmodern include the idea of an artist looking to the past as a way to move forward. Brahms, in using classical formal principles, offers an answer to "what comes next" after the Romantic ideal of Schumann.

It's an interesting article, and one that deserves consideration, especially by those who believe that innovation is the only means of moving forward. (For many, it is not.)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1231748 - 07/14/09 11:10 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Andromaque]  
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argerichfan  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 9,373
Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted by Andromaque

Let us get over it.. You ought not draw conclusions about pride from a posting on a forum, lest you be prejudiced.. smile

Well you got off easier than I did, though I tried to explain (save face?) in a previous post. I was just attempting to be honest in saying that Brahms simply doesn't always catch in my personal filter trap... maybe it depends on the mood at the time, I don't know. If my choice of words in describing that feeling produced some 'flash points', well I apologize.

As other forum members may know, I have even more problems with Mahler, though that situation is generally driven by a distrust of a composer who is so frequently worshiped with an uncritical, hot house, messianic fervor.

Re the Schumann thread, I had nothing but praise for the piano works. I have loved several of them since I was a boy... as with the Brahms piano concertos. But moving on to the (Schumann) symphonies, it's a different kettle. The melodic material is always first rate (particularly in the 2nd & 3rd), but the orchestration so often comes off as unadventurous, dull and unbalanced. IMO of course.

I've read several essays devoutly defending Schumann's orchestration, usually tying it to his 'state of mind' and such, but it all seems merely self-evident.




Jason
#1232140 - 07/15/09 05:30 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: argerichfan]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,886
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Andromaque  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,886
New York
Hey Argerichfan, we nearly got sent to the doghouse over this one.. I , sheepishly admit not being a huge fan of Mahler either, but we are inundated with Mahler symphonies here in NYC, what with Maazel regularly cycling through them and now the new director of the NY Philharmonic, Gilbert, planning to open the season with Mahler's Third!
Re: Schumann, he was a very bad conductor. If I recall my readings correctly, he got fired as a conductor even as he was leading his own works (was it from the Geawandhaus or was he already in Dresden? I am not sure). Perhaps the 2 skills, orchestration and conducting, are somewhat related.

Last edited by Andromaque; 07/15/09 05:33 PM.
#1232157 - 07/15/09 06:14 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Kreisler]  
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,629
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Damon  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,629
Do any Brahms players here on the forums have any recommendations
for editors? I have Sauer's version of the op. 39 and 35 and he isn't very
helpful. I have a comfortable fingerspan of just under a 10th and am interested
in the Sonatas.

#1232189 - 07/15/09 07:11 PM Re: Do we have any Brahms fans here? [Re: Damon]  
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member
sotto voce  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Rafael Joseffy is my favorite editor for Chopin, specifically on the strength of his fingering suggestions. I never knew until recently that he edited at least some of Brahms's piano music, too. The only source I know is IMSLP, and the selection is limited (so far as I am aware) to the Ballades Op. 10, Rhapsodies Op. 79 and Sonata Op. 5.

Steven

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