Of all the composers of the 19th century, Brahms had the most individual style. Although he did write in the same Classical form of such greats as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he added the warmth and expressionism of Romanticism. He was distinguished in his ability to develop and sustain deep emotion in his compositions.
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833. He received instruction from his father, who was a double-bass player at the Hamburg Opera. He later received instruction from Otto Franz Cossel and Eduard Marxsen. He became such an accomplished pianist that at age 14, he gave his first public concert.
He earned his living playing in taverns and theaters and in 1853, he toured Germany as an accompanist to Eduard Remenyi, a Hungarian violinist. It was during this tour that he met Joseph Jaoachim who was so impressed with his talent that he gave him letters of introduction to Liszt and Schumann. Schumann was impressed with Brahms’ compositions and personally arranged for some of them to be published.
Brahms spent several years traveling throughout Germany before becoming musician to the small court of Detmold in 1857. He remained there for two years before returning to Hamburg to become the director of a women’s choral society. He still continued to compose and by 1862, he had written several pieces for the piano, such as Concerto No. 1 in D minor.
In 1862, he became conductor of the Singakademie in Vienna. He traveled extensively for the next 15 years, finally settling in Vienna in 1878. He devoted the last 20 years of his life to his music, receiving several honors, such as an honorary degree from Breslau University.
Brahms wrote every style of music, except opera. His compositions for orchestras included four concertos, four symphonies and five other pieces. His concertos are among the most popular works of this music genre. He is considered to be the finest composer of chamber music after Beethoven with 24 works. He was the master of the use of counterpoint, as is evident in German Requiem and the Song of Triumph.