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JOHANNES BRAHMS – Biography in Music (Rescheduled)

January 25, 2016 – Brahms-Humor (No, this is not a misnomer.)

Don’t let this face fool you.

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He could be funny. Okay, yes, he had a tendency to brood. (He once wrote “I have to confess …that I am a severely melancholic person –and that black wings are constantly flapping above…” )

But, as far as such a thing is possible, he had a good sense of humor about his brooding. It was dark humor, but that counts, right?

  • There was the time he said to his orchestra in Vienna one day, “Today I am in a good mood, so let’s do ‘Dear Lord, when shall I die?‘”
  • Or the time he told his publisher “I’ve never written anything so sad, so minorish. The score music must appear with a black border.”
  • Or the time he said, in solidarity with his Jewish friends, that he planned to have himself circumcised the following week.
  • Or when he was premiering a new work in Leipzig, where his 1st Piano concerto flopped years before, he wrote to friends about what to expect:  …I shall arrive very, very early and won’t leave again until Saturday! Three days before the concert I shall begin to sweat and to drink chamomile tea and after the fiasco – suicide attempts in the Gewalthaus, etc. You shall see what an irritable composer is capable of doing! …As hurriedly as he is devoted, your J. Brahms
  • He loved children, but there was that time he told his housekeeper’s little ones on Christmas Eve that the Christ child had gotten the flu, and there wouldn’t be any presents that year. It was not pretty.

So here’s a little humorous song, to celebrate the lighter side of the dark-humored Brahms, brought to you by the great Gerald Moore and his accompanist, Christa Ludwig. Enjoy…