An illuminating new biography of one of the most beloved of all composers, published on the hundredth anniversary of his death, brilliantly written by a finalist for the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award. Johannes Brahms has consistently eluded his biographers. Throughout his life, he attempted to erase traces of himself, wanting his music to be his sole legacy. Now, in this masterful book, Jan Swafford, critically acclaimed as both biographer and composer, takes a fresh look at Brahms, giving us for the first time a fully realized portrait of the man who created the magnificent music. Brahms was a man with many friends and no intimates, who experienced triumphs few artists achieve in their lifetime. Yet he lived with a relentless loneliness and a growing fatalism about the future of music and the world. The Brahms that emerges from these pages is not the bearded eminence of previous biographies but rather a fascinating assemblage of contradictions. Brought up in poverty, he was forced to play the piano in the brothels of Hamburg, where he met with both mental and physical abuse. At the same time, he was the golden boy of his teachers, who found themselves in awe of a stupendous talent: a miraculous young composer and pianist, poised between the emotionalism of the Romantics and the rigors of the composers he worshipped--Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. In 1853, Robert Schumann proclaimed the twenty-year-old Brahms the savior of German music. Brahms spent the rest of his days trying to live up to that prophecy, ever fearful of proving unworthy of his musical inheritance. We find here more of Brahms's words, his daily life and joys and sorrows, than in any other biography. With novelistic grace, Swafford shows us a warm-blooded but guarded genius who hid behind jokes and prickliness, rudeness and intractability with his friends as well as his enemies, but who was also a witty drinking companion and a consummate careerist skillfully courting the powerful. This is a book rich in secondary characters as well, including Robert Schumann, declining into madness as he hailed the advent of a new genius; Clara Schumann, the towering pianist, tormented personality, and great love of Brahms's life; Josef Joachim, the brilliant, self-lacerating violinist; the extraordinary musical amateur Elisabet von Herzogenberg, on whose exacting criticism Brahms relied; Brahms's rival and shadow, the malevolent genius Richard Wagner; and Eduard Hanslick, enemy of Wagner and apostle of Brahms, at once the most powerful and most wrongheaded music critic of his time. Among the characters in the book are two great cities: the stolid North German harbor town of Hamburg where Johannes grew up, which later spurned him; and glittering, fickle, music-mad Vienna, where Brahms the self-proclaimed vagabond finally settled, to find his sweetest triumphs and his most bitter failures. Unique to this book is the way in which musical scholarship and biography are combined: in a style refreshingly free of pretentiousness, Jan Swafford takes us deep into the music--from the grandeur of the First Symphony and the intricacies of the chamber work to the sorrow of the German Requiem--allowing us to hear these familiar works in new and often surprising ways. This is a clear-eyed study of a remarkable man and a vivid portrait of an era in transition. Ultimately, Johannes Brahms is the story of a great, backward-looking artist who inspired musical revolutionaries of the following generations, yet who was no less a prophet of the darkness and violence of our century. A biographical masterpiece at once wholly original and definitive. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Jan Swafford
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2017-04-11
A preeminent composer, music scholar, and biographer presents an engaging and accessible introduction to classical music For many of us, classical music is something serious--something we study in school, something played by cultivated musicians at fancy gatherings. In Language of the Spirit, renowned music scholar Jan Swafford argues that we have it all wrong: classical music has something for everyone and is accessible to all. Ranging from Gregorian chant to Handel's Messiah, from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons to the postmodern work of Philip Glass, Swafford is an affable and expert guide to the genre. He traces the history of Western music, introduces readers to the most important composers and compositions, and explains the underlying structure and logic of their music. Language of the Spirit is essential reading for anyone who has ever wished to know more about this sublime art.
Author: Wolfgang Sandberger
Release Date: 2016-09-03
Einer der wichtigsten Komponisten des 19. Jahrhunderts. Johannes Brahms gilt vielen als Endpunkt einer ästhetisch-historischen Entwicklung, als Galionsfigur, welche die Weltgeltung der deutschen Musik zum letzten Mal (Wilhelm Furtwängler) gesichert habe. Abgesehen von der Oper hat er in allen musikalischen Gattungen exemplarische Werke geschaffen. Führende Brahms-Forscher erkunden in diesem Handbuch seine Kompositionsweise sowie die Voraussetzungen und Wirkungen seines Werkes. Ein Muss für alle, die sich für Brahms Musik begeistern.
Author: Jan Swafford
Publisher: Edizioni Mondadori
Release Date: 2018-06-19
Sono in molti a pensare che la musica classica sia qualcosa di troppo serio, qualcosa che si studia a scuola o al conservatorio e che si ascolta eseguita da compassati musicisti in circostanze eleganti ed esclusive. E sono in molti a ritenere che in fondo sia solo una questione di tecnica, di esercizio ostinato, di dedizione assoluta, appannaggio di geni solitari e piacere riservato a raffinati e incanutiti intenditori. Che la musica classica sia tutto questo è indubbiamente vero. Ma è altrettanto vero che è anche molto, molto di più. Per Jan Swafford, musicologo, compositore e autore di importanti monografie su Brahms e Beethoven, essa è il linguaggio attraverso il quale esprimiamo i nostri sentimenti più profondi, lo specchio che riflette le infinite sfumature della vita e del sogno, del sacro e del mistero. Che sia prodotta soffiando in un flauto ricavato dalla zanna di un mammut, scritta nella quiete di una corte barocca o composta sotto l'incedere pauroso della guerra o della follia, la musica rivela ciò che di sublime e di ripugnante, di eccelso e di banale alberga nell'animo umano. Una speciale forma di comunicazione, quindi, il cui impatto emotivo e intellettuale non finisce di sorprenderci. Dal canto gregoriano alla dodecafonia di Schönberg, dalle soavi opere di Mozart al minimalismo di Philip Glass, dai madrigali di Monteverdi alle sinfonie di Haydn e ai Lieder di Schubert, con Il linguaggio dello spirito Swafford ripercorre la storia della musica occidentale, la sua continua evoluzione, la sua capacità di assimilare idee, voci e stili diversi e di reinventarsi ogni volta. Si sofferma sulle innovazioni - la notazione, la polifonia, il temperamento equabile, l'atonalità ecc. - spiegandone il significato e l'importanza dal punto di vista tecnico oltre che artistico. Ci presenta compositori e brani, quasi sempre sotto una luce assolutamente inedita, in cui l'artista esce dal mito per entrare nella storia, una storia spesso fatta di sofferenze e rinunce, incomprensioni e fallimenti. Ci offre eccellenti suggerimenti per l'ascolto, indicandoci registrazioni imprescindibili, memorabili esecuzioni o semplicemente brani poco noti eppure straordinari. E tutto in uno stile ironico, talvolta irriverente, non convenzionale, partigiano, unico. Per chiunque voglia accostarsi a quest'arte sublime, Il linguaggio dello spirito è una lettura fondamentale.
The essays assembled in this volume grew out of a conference held at Cornell University in November 2001. The goal of the conference was to examine the claim that the city-state of Hamburg had a unique status in the cultural landscape of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany, a status based upon the city's republican political constitution. Hamburg's independence and its tolerant and cosmopolitan political traditions made it a focal point for progressive cultural developments during the period of the Enlightenment and after. The contributions collected here transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries by giving equal attention to literature, music, and theater, as well as to architecture and city planning. Key essays address the role that figures as diverse as C. P. E. Bach, Lessing, Klopstock, Heine, Brahms, and Thomas Mann played in shaping Hamburg's exceptional quality as a center of culture. This volume will be of interest not only to scholars doing research on Hamburg, but also to anyone with an interest in the cultural history of eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth-century Germany.
Author: David Dubal
Publisher: North Point Press
Release Date: 2003-10-24
The ultimate guide to classical composers and their music-for both the novice and the experienced listener Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal comes to the aid of the struggling listener and provides a cultural-literacy handbook for classical music. Dubal identifies the 240 composers whose works are most important to an understanding of classical music and offers a comprehensive, chronological guide to their lives and works. He has searched beyond the traditional canon to introduce readers to little-known works by some of the most revered names in classical music-Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert-as well as to the major works of lesser-known composers. In a spirited and opinionated voice, Dubal seeks to rid us of the notion of "masterpieces" and instead to foster a new generation of master listeners. The result is an uncommon collection of the wonders classical music has to offer.
How Does an Atheist Respond to the Question, What Is the Purpose of Life? For a Christian, it is faith that gives their life purpose. In his best-selling book The Purpose Driven™ Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, Rick Warren says, “You must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” But as a non-believer, your purpose resides in yourself; it is yours alone to discover and develop. It’s about choosing to live your own life for your own reasons. No one can dictate your purpose. You decide. This book will help you understand and appreciate why freely choosing to help and cooperate with others is the true path to finding purpose. Life does not need purpose: Purpose needs life. To punctuate this point, The Good Atheist includes inspiring biographies of humanity’s true heroes—men and women who did not waste their lives as slaves to a God, but rather found purpose in enhancing life on this Earth for all of us.
During Elvis Presley's career, he recorded some 800 songs in studio conditions, meant for release on record. In addition, many informal recordings were made of Elvis singing numbers that were never intended for record release. Such recordings were made at home, whilst visiting friends, during his stay in Germany, or even as one-liners or brief extracts during concert performances. Of all of these songs, David Neale has identified some 450 different titles that were recorded by someone else before Elvis got around to recording them. "Roots of Elvis" lists each of these songs, identifying the original recording artist and when the original was made (some date back to the 19th century!), as well as providing fascinating background to the numbers. Readers will be surprised to learn of Elvis's link with Ignacy Paderewski, for example, the man who prepared USA President Wilson's Treaty of Versailles. The range of music represented is quite extraordinary and is testimony to Elvis's versatility: rock'n'roll, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, folk, and even a bit of classical: who would have thought that names such as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms would appear in a book about the music of Elvis Presley!