[EPUB] ✶ Johannes Brahms: A Biography ✻ Jan Swafford – Dolove.info

Johannes Brahms: A Biography It took me a lot longer to finish this book than it did for others of my musical friends who ve read this fantastic biography, but that hadto do with my impatience with musical analysis than other factors after all, the book IS a scholarly work, even though it generally reads as a story anyone would pore over with great interest so long as the reader loves the music of Brahms, anyway It IS a large tome, though over 600 pages, easily and there s so much to digest, it takes doing so a bit at a time.In the end, one comes away not only with a greater appreciation for Brahms the man and his reputation as a grouchy old bachelor is warranted but there s so muchTHERE than just the myths , but also the other great musical, political, artistic figures who shared his history This is easily as much a history of Robert and Clara Schumann as it is a Brahms history also not a surprise, since nearly all classical music lovers know how the Schumanns lives intertwined with that of Brahms but there are also fascinating insights into Brahms s relations with Lizst and Wagner both of whom he disliked, orcorrectly both of whose MUSIC he abhorred and many others for instance, he and Tchaikovsky disliked each other, whereas Edvard Grieg and Brahms admired each other s music There is ample discussion of the women Brahms loved but never married, as well as thoughtful psycho analysis on the wounds and abuses of his younger years that very likely caused him to remain a bachelor until the end A fantastic biography of a musical lion one of the three B s Bach, Beethoven and Brahms Well worth the effort. I would tentatively recommend this biography While it certainly is very long, and definitely not lacking in detail, some of that extraordinary amount of detail is not correct For instance, on page 48, he describes insurrections taking place in several countries, including Czechoslovakia in 1848 In reality, Czechoslovakia did not come into existence until 1918, some 70 years later What country did he mean While some people may feel that this is a small point, the author makes reference in his introduction to a number of other errors being pointed out to him since it was published in hard cover This is not good.In addition, the author mentions the Frauenchor women s choir that Brahms directed while at the same time as mentioning Brahms Marienlieder While it is not made clear that there is no connection between the work and the choir, their being mentioned together indicates that the Marienlieder was written for women s voices alone, when in fact it was written for mixed choir This is never made clear Then the author goes on to mention that Brahms eventually wrote six Marienlieder, when in fact it was seven These are not state secrets being held in an obscure archive at an obscure university in Bad Ischl they are readily available and quantifiable basic facts that the author did not bother to either make clear or verify These and other faux pas bring into question his research abilities or rather, those of his assistant s , and how far he can be trusted, despite him often citing his sources.On the plus side, there are few writers who have such a tremendous command of the English language and write as powerfully as Swafford can I found it often fascinating to read If nothing else, his tome helped me to appreciate Brahms musicthan before In addition, Swafford points out that one of the reasons for the lowering of musical standards amongst composers and others is the fact that people don t play two piano or four hand one piano renditions of important works any, due to the rise of the gramophone, and now the compact disc player At times, his insights are exceptional.The problem with composer biographies is that those whose research abilities are impeccable rarely have good writing skills, and vice versa For those who need to be sure that the information they are getting is absolutely correct, they will have to approach a good reference librarian to recommend an academic rather than a popular biography. A very nicely paced narrative of a great and interesting man and his times Because of the intelligence of the author and his respect for his subject, I became filled with enthusiasm for Brahms and listened to a lot of his music I travelled through his life with him from Opus 1 on About half the music was new to me thank you, YouTube Though I m an amateur, almost all the musical analysis was accessible and helpful I loved Swafford s way with words movingly high flown just where I wanted it to be and dry to the appropriate degree at just the right moments. This is, by far, the best biography of any composer I have read It not only presented interesting information about Brahms, the man, it also presented concurrent and detailed analysis of some of his seminal works As I was reading, I would go find a youtube recording, and immediately not only see, but hear was I was reading about My understanding and appreciation of Brahms the person and the breadth of his composition has been enhanced many fold. I don t read many biographies, and I m not sure why I picked this up, but I immediately liked the book, especially as it was written by a musician The portions of the book that focus on the music are fabulous, even with my limited understanding, and I believe the author writes about the music the way that Brahms was intended to be appreciated.However the rest, as the book goes on, descends into tedium The problem really is that Brahm s life is too long and too large, and the author having set a standard for event reporting, just has too much to report, and can t step back As a result, I becamedistant from the author and from Brahms himself I acknowledge it is a difficult task, but, to use a Brahms analogy, might have mixed up the writing style, like the last movement of Brahms 4th, than just use the same reporting style.I can recommend this to a lot of people, especially musicians, and biography lovers who want a change of pace Brahms was a true giant and I love his music The book is enlightening in many ways I just can t recommend it enthusiastically. This lengthy biography was an endlessly fascinating read Swafford focuseson Brahms life , psychology, and relationships than on analyses of his compositional technique and development There is a lot of detail here, but the prose never bogs down Swafford has a great deal of insight into Brahms motivations and his position as a relatively conservative yet daring composer caught between the waning of Romanticism and the emergence of modernism The analysis and discussion of Brahms music that does appear in the text makes the latter clear, and helps to explain the richness in in these pieces.He also has a very clear eye regarding his subject, portraying Brahms as a complex person with flaws that often caused conflict with and even estrangement from even his closest friends and with virtues that drew people to him and cemented life long friendships I particularly enjoyed the examination of his relationship with Clara Schumann, which spanned four decades and was foundational to Brahms personal and professional life. A marvelously readable and balanced biography I enjoyed it thoroughly My brother and sister in law, both highly trained musicians that read, will get the parts I missed where Swafford illustrates a point about the music by printing out a section of various scores Still, even if you cannot do this, it s a worthwhile read. This book is a a blend of biographical history and musical analysis, so be ready to sit with You Tube to check out the dozens of music works that are discussed I loved this book for its insight into the mentality of a composer musician, and how he coped with his life issues through his music As a follower of Christ, I was interested to see if the composer of the German Requiem we sang in college had any kind of saving faith He did not, according to this historian, and eyewitness accounts of many of his close associates He did have a friend who conducted the Requiem s premiere who advised Brahms to include the resurrection of Christ in the work Brahms declined becuase he did not believe in Jesus. Johannes Brahms is one of the greatest composers of all time He wrote 4 beautiful symphonies, all of which I have listened to and loved My favorite piece by Brahms would probably be the Piano Quintet in F minor, because it is very dramatic The fiery elegance of the piece will take your breath away. A New York Times Notable Book This Brilliant And Magisterial Book Is A Very Good Bet Tobecome The Definitive Study Of Johannes Brahms The Plain DealerJudicious, Compassionate, And Full Of Insight Into Brahms S Human Complexity As Well As His Music, Johannes Brahms Is An Indispensable BiographyProclaimed The New Messiah Of Romanticism By Robert Schumann When He Was Only Twenty, Johannes Brahms Dedicated Himself To A Long And Extraordinarily Productive Career In This Book, Jan Swafford Sets Out To Reveal The Little Known Brahms, The Boy Who Grew Up In Mercantile Hamburg And Played Piano In Beer Halls Among Prostitutes And Drunken Sailors, The Fiercely Self Protective Man Who Thwarted Future Biographers By Burning Papers, Scores And Notebooks Late In His Life Making Unprecedented Use Of The Remaining Archival Material, Swafford Offers Richly Expanded Perspectives On Brahms S Youth, On His Difficult Romantic Life Particularly His Longstanding Relationship With Clara Schumann And On His Professional Rivalry With Lizst And Wagner Johannes Brahms Will No Doubt Stand As The Definitive Work On Brahms, One Of The Monumental Biographies In The Entire Musical Library London Weekly Standard It Is A Measure Of The Accomplishment Of Jan Swafford S Biography That Brahms S Sadness Becomes Palpable Swafford Manages To Construct A Full Bodied Human Being The New York Times Book Review

About the Author: Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford is a composer and writer His musical works range from orchestral and chamber to film and theater music, including four pieces for orchestra, Midsummer Variations for piano quintet, They That Mourn for piano trio, They Who Hunger for piano quartet, From the Shadow of the Mountain for string orchestra and the theatrical work, Iphigenia, for choir, instruments and a narrator.Swafford s

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