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Piano Concerto No. 1 (Brahms)

From Academic Kids

Johannes Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor (Op. 15) is described by some as a virtuoso's showcase. After a prolonged gestation period, like many of Brahms's compositions, most notably the First Symphony (sometimes called the Beethoven Tenth), it premiered on January 22, 1859 in Hanover, Germany. Five days later, at Leipzig, an unenthusiastic audience hissed at the concerto. In a letter to the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim, Brahms stated, "I am only experimenting and feeling my way," adding sadly, "all the same, the hissing was rather too much!"

A combination of a two-piano sonata and a symphony resulted in the concerto. The movements are:

  1. Maestoso
  2. Adagio
  3. Rondo: Allegro non troppo

Written in a difficult time in Brahms' life (Schumann had died just three years ago, and Brahms was said to be madly in love with Clara Schumann), it symbolizes Brahms' effort to try to combine pianistic effects with the orchestra, unlike earlier concertos, where the orchestra effectively accompanied the pianist. This style was later realized in Brahms' hugely popular Second Piano Concerto. This concerto also demonstrated Brahms' particular interest in scoring for the timpani and the horn, both of whose parts are notoriously difficult.

Although the work of Brahms's youth, this concerto is a very mature work. As time passed, the work grew in popularity, until it was recognized as a masterpiece. Most notable are the grand classical concepts and the thrilling technical difficulties at hand. Brahms' First Concerto is considered a work worthy of its master.

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