Today marks the birth anniversary of legendary German musician Johannes Brahms, who is justifiably regarded as the first superstar composer and pianist of the Romantic period.
The music director, composer, and lyricist revolutionized western songs by introducing classical European music in a manner that was widely appreciated and consumed.
The late musician wrote symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, choral compositions, and more than 200 songs.
Born in Hamburg, Brahms was the great master of symphonic and sonata style in the second half of the 19th century.
He is widely regarded as the protagonist of the Classical tradition of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven in a period when the standards of this tradition were being questioned or overturned by the Romantics.
The son of Jakob Brahms, an impeccable horn and double bass player, Johannes showed early promise as a pianist at a young age.
He first studied music with his father and, at age seven, was sent for piano lessons to F.W. Cossel, who three years later passed him to his own teacher, Eduard Marxsen.
Between ages 14 and 16, Brahms earned money to help his family by playing in rough inns in the dock area of Hamburg and meanwhile composing and sometimes giving recitals.
In 1850 he met Eduard Reményi, a Jewish Hungarian violinist, with whom he gave concerts and from whom he learned something of Roma music—an influence that remained with him always.
His breakthrough came in 1853, when he met the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim, who instantly realized the talent of Brahms.
In turn, Joachim recommended Brahms to the composer Robert Schumann, and an immediate friendship between the two composers resulted. Schumann wrote enthusiastically about Brahms in the periodical Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, praising his compositions.
From this moment on, Brahms was a force in the world of music, though there were always factors that made difficulties for him.