- Johannes Brahms - The Last Classicist [Suggested Reading]
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Johannes Brahms
Suggested Reading

Johannes Brahms : Life and Letters
(Johannes Brahms, Josef Eisinger (Translator), Styra Avins (Editor))
This book is the first comprehensive collection of the letters of Johannes Brahms ever to appear in English. Over 550 are included, virtually all uncut, and there are over a dozen published here for the first time in any language. Although he corresponded throughout his life with some of the great performers, composers, musicologists, writers, scientists, and artists of the day, and although thousands of his letters have survived, English readers have until now had scant opportunity to meet Brahms in person, through his words, and in his own voice.

The letters in this volume range from 1848 to just before his death. They include all Brahm's letters to Robert Schumann, over a hundred letters to Clara Schumann, and the complete Brahms-Wagner correspondence. They are joined by a running commentary to form an absorbing narrative, documented with scholarly care, provided with comprehensive notes, but written for the general music lover--the result is a lively biography. The work is generously illustrated, and contains several detailed appendices and an index.

Johannes Brahms: A Biography
(Jan Swafford)
The brilliant biographer of quintessentially American, prototypically modern musician Charles Ives proves just as masterful in probing the life and art of a 19th-century German composer. Writing with passionate clarity that perfectly matches the genius of Brahms (1833-1897), Jan Swafford traces the emotional wellsprings of this secretive man's music without trivializing art into mere autobiography. A composer himself, Swafford understands and lucidly conveys Brahms's unique position in musical history: beloved by many, emulated by few, the triumphant yet melancholy heir of a tradition coming to an end in his lifetime.

Talks With Great Composers
(Arthur M. Abell)
Between 1890 and 1917, Abell engaged in lengthy, candid conversations with the greatest composers of his day--Johannes Brahms, Giacomo Puccini, Richard Strauss, Engelbert Humperdinck, Max Brunch, and Evard Grieg--about the intellectual, psychic, and spiritual tensions of their creative endeavors. This book is the result of those conversations, and is, quite simply, a masterpiece that reveals the agony, triumphs, and the religiosity inherent in the creative mind.

The Compleat Brahms: A Guide to the Musical Works of Johannes
(Leon Botstein)
"Monumental" is the first word that occurs to you when you begin exploring what has been put together by Leon Botstein and his 29 collaborators. Brahms was the great musical conservative in the creative ferment of the late 19th century. Haunted by the figure of Beethoven, he destroyed much of his own work--carefully tailoring his posthumous image--in fear of negative comparisons. At the same time, he preserved almost single-handedly the great classical tradition embodied in Beethoven's work. Virtually every piece composed by Brahms is discussed in this compendium, lucidly, readably, in biographical and cultural context, and in fine detail. The writers are all scholars or professional performers--often both--but they have worked hard to make their discussions and analyses accessible to the interested general reader, and in their diversity of approaches they have made the book a compendium of the varied techniques for writing legibly about music. You may not agree with every word (a fine seasoning of opinion has been allowed to flavor the masses of fact), and it is not the sort of book that anyone but a fanatic will gallop through from cover to cover. But you will find Brahms here in all his complexity, still monumental but more approachable than ever.


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