(7 May 1833, Hamburg – 3 April 1897, Vienna)
German composer, conductor and pianist, he is considered the ”successor” of Beethoven and one of the greatest composers of the 19th century. First studying music under his father, who was a double bass player at the Philharmonic society in Hamburg, at the age of 7 he receives his first piano lessons from F.W. Cossel, who three years later passed him to his own teacher, Eduard Marxsen. Forced by unfortunate circumstances, Brahms began his piano career in his teenage years playing in restaurants, taverns and even brothels, this latter aspect is later challenged by Kurt Hoffman's biographical studies on the matter.
Although the young Brahms gave a few concerts in Hamburg as a pianist, his talent as a composer and pianist didn't receive the proper attention until later in 1853 following the tour of concerts with violinist Eduard Reményi (1828-1898). Here he gets acquainted with violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) and Franz Liszt, later he was presented to the great German composer, Robert Schumann, with whom he would share a great friendship for the rest of his life.
Between 1857 and 1860 Brahms divided himself between the Detmold court - where he worked as a piano teacher and choir conductor - and Göttingen, in the year of 1859 he was appointed conductor of a women's choir in Hamburg. These jobs ensured him a valuable practical musical experience and left him enough free time for his own work.
In 1860 Brahms visited for the first time Vienna, having failed to secure the post of conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic concerts, 3 years later he was appointed director of the Singakademie choral group. In the years that followed, his music was greatly appreciated and received by the public. The year of 1868 rewards Brahms with the completion of one of his most famous choral works, Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), that he was working on since the death of his mentor, Robert Schumann. This work, based on biblical texts selected by the composer, made a strong impact at its first performance at Bremen on Good Friday, 1868; after this, it was performed throughout Germany.
His music, despite a few failures and constant attacks by the Wagnerites, was established, and his reputation grew steadily. By 1872 he was principal conductor of the Society of Friends of Music (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde), and for three seasons he directed the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
His Symphony No. 1 in C Minor (also named ”Beethoven's 10th symphony” by German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer Hans von Bülow) composed over 20 years and premiered in 1876, is considered one of the greatest symphonies of Austro-German tradition.
Johannes Brahms composed a great deal of important orchestral works including 2 overtures and 4 symphonies, 2 piano concerts, one violin concert, a double concert for violin and cello. Also, regarding chamber music, Brahms composed works for different instrumental ensembles and a consistent number of Lieder, considered among the most representative of the Romantic era. Although considered the most ”classic” Romantic composer due to his traditional methods and his affinity for the classical forms, this is not reflected in his works, which retains the power of seduction despite future trends.
Here you can find a list of Johannes Brahms's compositions.