Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Brahms

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897), was a German composer and pianist, one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period.

Brahms is hit or miss for me, but I do enjoy his Hungarian Rhapsody.

I see Mark Twain in this video. That would be so cool to have met him.

Brahms and Religion
Although Brahms's religious views are not perfectly clear, it is certain one of his musical influences was the Bible. His "Requiem" employs biblical texts to convey a humanist message, omitting words about salvation or immortality, and focuses on the living rather than the dead. On the one hand, author Walter Niemann declared, "The fact that Brahms began his creative activity with the German folk song and closed with the Bible reveals...the true religious creed of this great man of the people." However, others see Brahms as more of a cultural Lutheran who embraced the cultural aspects of his upbringing but may or may not have adopted the religious beliefs. When asked by conductor Karl Reinthaler to add additional sectarian text to his "requiem", Brahms responded, "As far as the text is concerned, I confess that I would gladly omit even the word German and instead use Human; also with my best knowledge and will I would dispense with passages like John 3:16. On the other hand, I have chosen one thing or another because I am a musician, because I needed it, and because with my venerable authors I can't delete or dispute anything. But I had better stop before I say too much."

There is reason to believe that Brahms was a religious freethinker. Being a star of his age, he would frequently say deceptive things to the public. This means that the most reliable accounts on Brahms's innermost feelings may come from the people in the close circle around him. Among these, you have the pious Antonín Dvořák, the closest Brahms ever would come to having a protégé. In a letter, Dvorak disclosed his concerns regarding Brahms's religious views: "Such a man, such a fine soul—and he believes in nothing! He believes in nothing!"

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