Brahms / Schumann / Berlin-based orchestras
Brahms / Schumann IV
In an article in the “Neue Zeitschrift für Musik” in 1853, Robert Schumann referred to Johannes Brahms as “a young blood, at whose cradle appear graces and heroes”, a composer “whose very calling would be that which needed to be expressed according to the spirit of the times and in the most suitable manner possible, one whose mastery would not gradually unfold but, like Minerva, would spring fully armed from the head of Jupiter. […] Sitting at the keyboard he began unveiling magnificent regions. We were drawn into ever more magical circles. On top of that, we heard a brilliant performance technique that made the piano into an orchestra with lamenting or rejoicing voices.” Despite Schumann’s prophetic words, Brahms’ journey towards the symphony was a long one. In 1885, the composer ended his symphonic oeuvre with his Fourth. Its final movement, which was based on the passacaglia, a baroque compositional principle, looks back at the music of the baroque era just as Brahm’s compositional rigour looks forward to Arnold Schönberg’s oeuvre. By contrast, Schumann’s Fourth Symphony, his only in a minor key, is in fact the composer’s second contribution to this genre. The work was composed in 1841, but was only published 10 years later as Schumann’s Op. 120 after a complete overhaul, when symphonies number 2 and 3 were already in print.