Johannes BRAHMS
7 May 1833 - 3 April 1897 (age 63)

One of the 'Three B's", Brahms is one of the giants of classical music. His output includes most genres except for opera and ballet.
Called by some 'Last of the Classicists' he is classified in the Early Romantic period.







Portrait of Johannes Brahms


Born: 7 May 1833, Hamburg
Father: Johann Jako, musician mainly horn and double-bass
Mother: Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen, seamstress (17 yrs older )
Partners: unmarried, but had relationships with several women and was once engaged. Very close to Clara Schumann
Children: None
Death: 3 April 1897, Vienna, cancer (of liver or pancreas).
Grave: Zentralfriedhof,Vienna. Buried next to Beethoven and Schubert.


  • 4 Symphonies
  • Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Haydn
  • 2 overtures
  • 4 concertos (2 for piano, 1 for violin, 1 for violin and cello)
  • Piano music
  • Choral music incl A German Requiem
  • Over 200 Lieder and folk song arrangements
  • Chamber music
  • No opera

  • Personality

    Religion: agnostic, but had a good knowledge of the Bible.
    Money: Financially successful but led a modest lifestyle and had simple tastes.
    Instruments: As a boy he also learned the cello and horn as well as the piano.
    Interests: -Nature lover. Liked going for long walks.
    -Reading, especially legends and folk tales.
    -Enjoyed a drink. Went to the 'Red Hedgehog Tavern' in Vienna almost daily. Smoked cigars.
    -Italy - he often went to Italy in spring/summer from when he was 55
    Temperament Perceived as disagreeable, grumpy, quiet, moody. Nevertheless he had plenty of friends and had a sensitive inner spirit.
    Appearance: As a young man he was very handsome
    smart and attractive to women. In his later years he grew a long beard and moustache and was generally untidy.


    - Age 7 began formal piano lessons
    - Age 14 debut as conductor
    - Age 15 first public performance as pianist
    - Age 20 while on a concert tour in Europe he met Liszt. He also met the violinist Joachim who became an important friend and interpreter. Joachim introduced him to the composer Robert Schumann and his pianist wife Clara. Schumann was very impressed , wrote a laudatory article and found him a publisher.
    - Age 23 Robert Schumann dies. Brahms and Clara susequently had a lifelong close, but platonic, relationship.
    - Held various conducting posts in Germany and gave piano lessons.
    - Age 36 Performance of his 'German Requiem' which is considered to be a response to his mother's death and also possibly that of Schumann.
    - Age 40 Moved to Vienna which was to be his home till he died
    - Age 43 Performance of his First Symphony which was hailed as 'Beethoven's 10th'. He had worked on it for eleven years.
    - Age 45 - 60 Productive years for composing.
    - For further biographical information follow the links below.

    Brahms in Art
    A fascinating collection of images - art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps.


    - Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.

    - “If there is anyone here whom I have not insulted, I beg his pardon.”

    - “A symphony is no joke.”

    - “Straight-away the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration.”

    - “It is not hard to compose, but what is fabulously hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table.”

    Recommended CDs, Books, DVDs on Amazon Books and music on Amazon.com (USA)

    or for UK buyers - Amazon.co.uk

    Hungarian Dance No.5 in G minor -
    Berliner Philharmoniker / Abbado

    (the original composition)

    Piano Concerto No 2 -
    1st movement Daniel Barenboim

    Symphony No1
     Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra ∙
    Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Conductor ∙
    Full symphony (approx 45 minutes)

    Links, sources and where to go for more information

    Answers.com content from various reference sites including Wikipedia

    Music Academy Online a biographical article.

    Brahms at Favorite-Classical Composers.com a biography and essays on his music.

    Findagrave A good biography as well as photos of his grave.

    - German Composers
    Other profiles of German composers here at 52composers.com

    - HOME 52composers.com

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