May 7 is the 177th birthday for Johannes Brahms. He was a leading composer of the Romantic era. His interaction with the Schumann family was one of his lifelong themes.
Today we will listen to a full hour of Brahms compositions as well as some selections from Tchaikovsky, Anna Bon, Auguste Holmes, Clara Schumann and Alice Mary Smith.
Despite his reputation as a serious composer of large, complex musical structures, some of Brahms’s most widely known and most commercially successful compositions during his life were small-scale works of popular intent aimed at the thriving contemporary market for domestic music-making; indeed, during the 20th century, the influential American critic B. H. Haggin, rejecting more mainstream views, argued in his various guides to recorded music that Brahms was at his best in such works and much less successful in larger forms. Among the most cherished of these lighter works by Brahms are his sets of popular dances—the Hungarian Dances, the Waltzes, Op. 39, for piano duet, and the Liebeslieder Waltzes for vocal quartet and piano—and some of his many songs, notably the Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4 (published in 1868). This last was written (to a folk text) to celebrate the birth of a son to Brahms’s friend Bertha Faber and is universally known as Brahms’s Lullaby.