LISTENING GUIDES TO THE WORKS OF JOHANNES BRAHMS

by Kelly Dean Hansen, Ph.D., Musicology

Brahms picture

In an ongoing project, I am constructing distinctive real-time listening guides to the works of the German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms.  By nature, the guides are recording-specific, but they can be adapted to any recording of the given works by simply changing the timings.  I am willing to do this for anybody who would like to provide a recording.  Email me if you have any requests for specific guides for works that may not be posted or for guides tailored to alternative recordings.  The most recent additions will be marked as NEW! for at least a week. 

NOTE (6/15/14): I should have indicated long ago that I can no longer take requests for specific guides, and I have not done so for some time.  I have explained to some people who have emailed me that it is just not feasible, and that it is best to stick to the random order I generated long ago.  The guide you want will eventually be available.  The site should be finished in the next 2-3 years.  84 of 122 opus numbers have now been done.  For whatever reason, I have not changed this introduction since 2006, and I really should have done so.  I AM still willing to tailor EXISTING guides to alternate recordings (with changed timings), although with the new public Spotify playlist, this should not usually be necessary.


Brahms Complete Works on Spotify! (URL)
Brahms Complete Works on Spotify! (URI)
Notes on the Spotify Playlist


6/17/14: In the almost ten years since beginning this project, it has been a personal labor of love.  It has been extremely gratifying to hear stories of people who enjoy what I have done and find the guides useful.  It has been even more satisfying to see my work here cited in various papers and projects.  But this is a labor-intensive project for which I receive no material benefit or compensation.  The guides are and always will be free to use and to cite (as long as I am properly credited), but I feel that it is finally time to drop this little button onto the top of the site.  If you feel that my continuation and eventual completion of the project is of value to you or to others, please consider helping me out.  Two days ago, I publicly announced (above) that I would not take any requests for guides.  However, for any donation of $20 or more, I will immediately drop what I am working on and move directly to a work of your choice from the 38 remaining opus numbers (no WoO numbers at this point).  First come, first serve.  Guaranteed completion within ten days of the donation or, if somebody is ahead of you, within ten days from the point at which the previous guide in the queue is completed.  Thank you in advance to anybody who is moved to help.

The following guides are now available:

Opus 1: Piano Sonata #1 in C Major [December 21, 2005--REVISED March 26, 2010]
Opus 2: Piano Sonata #2 in F-sharp Minor [December 21, 2005--REVISED January 24, 2010]
Opus 3: Six Songs (Gesänge) [December 21, 2005--REVISED December 26, 2012]
Opus 4: Scherzo for Piano in E-flat Minor [September 16, 2014]
Opus 5: Piano Sonata #3 in F Minor [March 4, 2013]
Opus 9: Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann for Solo Piano [June 30, 2010]
Opus 10: Four Ballades for Piano [March 31, 2015]
Opus 12: Ave Maria for Four-Voice Women’s Chorus and Orchestra or Organ [October 14, 2008]
Opus 13: Begräbnisgesang (Burial Song) for Chorus and Wind Instruments [August 28, 2008]
Opus 14: Eight Songs and Romances (Lieder und Romanzen) [September 6, 2008]
Opus 17: Four Partsongs (Gesänge) for Women’s Chorus with Two Horns and Harp [November 13, 2008]

Opus 18: String Sextet #1 in B-flat Major (includes arrangement of second movement for piano) [November 13, 2008]
Opus 19: Five Songs (Gedichte--Poems) [January 23, 2009]
Opus 20: Three Duets for Soprano and Alto [February 7, 2006--REVISED March 28, 2011]
Opus 21, No. 1: Variations on an Original Theme for Piano [January 31, 2009]
Opus 21, No. 2: Variations on a Hungarian Song for Piano [January 31, 2009]
Opus 22: Marienlieder (Marian Songs) for Mixed Chorus [August 24, 2009]
Opus 24: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of G. F. Handel for Piano [November 23, 2009]
Opus 25: Piano Quartet #1 in G Minor [July 9, 2009]
Opus 26: Piano Quartet #2 in A Major [May 31, 2013]
Opus 27: Psalm 13 for Three-Voice Women’s Chorus and Organ [October 28, 2009]
Opus 28: Four Duets for Alto and Baritone [August 15, 2009]
Opus 30: Geistliches Lied (Sacred Song) for Mixed Chorus and Organ [October 14, 2008]
Opus 31: Three Quartets for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass [October 24, 2008]
Opus 32: Nine Songs (Lieder und Gesänge) to Texts by Platen and Daumer [September 15, 2009]
Opus 33: Fifteen Romances from L. Tieck's  “Magelone” (Song Cycle) [August 12, 2006--REVISED September 15, 2009]
Opus 34: Piano Quintet in F Minor [January 7, 2014]
Opus 34b: Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor (after the Piano Quintet) [January 9, 2014]
Opus 35: Variations on a Theme of Paganini (Studies for Piano) [January 9, 2009]
Opus 36: String Sextet #2 in G Major [August 4, 2014]
Opus 37: Three Sacred Choruses (Geistliche Chöre) for Four-Voice Women’s Chorus [September 26, 2008]
Opus 38: Cello Sonata #1 in E Minor [July 11, 2013]
Opus 39: Sixteen Waltzes for Piano Duet or Piano Solo (All Versions) [November 4, 2008]
Opus 41: Five Partsongs (Lieder) for Four-Voice Men’s Chorus [May 31, 2008]
Opus 42: Three Partsongs (Gesänge) for Six-Voice Mixed Chorus [January 2, 2006--REVISED August 19, 2009]
Opus 43: Four Songs (Gesänge) [June 29, 2006--REVISED January 25, 2010]
Opus 44: Twelve Songs and Romances (Lieder und Romanzen) for Four-Voice Women’s Chorus with (Optional) Piano Accompaniment [June 23, 2012]
Opus 45: Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) to Words of Holy Scripture for Two Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra [December 26, 2008]
Opus 47: Five Songs (Lieder) [June 10, 2009]
Opus 49: Five Songs (Lieder) [February 26, 2014]
Opus 50: Rinaldo, Cantata for Tenor Solo, Male Chorus, and Orchestra [September 17, 2013]
Opus 51, No. 1: String Quartet #1 in C Minor [March 31, 2017]
Opus 51, No. 2: String Quartet #2 in A Minor [March 31, 2017]
Opus 52: Liebeslieder Waltzes for Vocal Quartet and Piano Duet [April 15, 2010]
Opus 53: Rhapsody for Alto, Male Chorus, and Orchestra [September 18, 2009]
Opus 55: Triumphlied (Song of Triumph) from Revelation Chapter 19 for Eight-Voice Chorus, Baritone Soloist, and Orchestra [September 22, 2012]
Opus 57: Eight Songs (Lieder und Gesänge) to Texts by G. F. Daumer [August 28, 2008]
Opus 58: Eight Songs (Lieder und Gesänge) [November 7, 2009]
Opus 59: Eight Songs (Lieder und Gesänge) [February 20, 2009]
Opus 63: Nine Songs (Lieder und Gesänge) [July 15, 2006--REVISED November 7, 2009]
Opus 65: New Liebeslieder Waltzes for Vocal Quartet and Piano Duet [October 24, 2008]
Opus 66: Five Duets for Soprano and Alto [September 15, 2009]
Opus 68: Symphony #1 in C Minor [March 26, 2010]
Opus 69: Nine Songs (Gesänge) [April 3, 2013]
Opus 70: Four Songs (Gesänge) [September 11, 2008]
Opus 71: Five Songs (Gesänge) [May 30, 2014]
Opus 72: Five Songs (Gesänge) [June 15, 2014]
Opus 73: Symphony #2 in D Major [January 29, 2010]
Opus 74: Two Motets for Mixed Chorus [June 30, 2009]
Opus 75: Four Ballads and Romances (Balladen und Romanzen) for Two Voices and Piano [March 28, 2011]
Opus 76: Eight Piano Pieces (Klavierstücke) [November 26, 2008]
Opus 77: Violin Concerto in D Major [February 9, 2009]
Opus 78: Violin Sonata #1 in G Major [September 1, 2009]
Opus 79: Two Rhapsodies for Piano [August 13, 2014]
Opus 80: Academic Festival Overture [June 12, 2013]
Opus 81: Tragic Overture (D Minor) [October 14, 2008]
Opus 82: Nänie for Chorus and Orchestra [April 25, 2014]
Opus 83: Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat Major [February 23, 2019] NEW!
Opus 84: Five Romances and Songs (Romanzen und Lieder) for One or Two Voices [June 26, 2006--REVISED February 28, 2019]
Opus 85: Six Songs (Lieder) [August 18, 2008]
Opus 86: Six Songs (Lieder) for Low Voice [November 20, 2008]
Opus 88: String Quintet #1 in F Major [July 21, 2009]
Opus 89: Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates) for Six-Voice Chorus and Orchestra [February 26, 2009]
Opus 92: Four Quartets for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass [June 26, 2009]
Opus 93a: Six Songs and Romances (Lieder und Romanzen) for Four-Voice Mixed Chorus [October 14, 2008]
Opus 93b: Tafellied--“Dank der Damen” (“The Ladies’ Toast”), Glee for Six-Voice Mixed Chorus and Piano [June 26, 2009]
Opus 97: Six Songs (Lieder) [September 26, 2008]
Opus 98: Symphony #4 in E Minor [June 17, 2009]
Opus 99: Cello Sonata #2 in F Major [January 26, 2013]
Opus 100: Violin Sonata #2 in A Major [February 9, 2006--REVISED July 11, 2009]
Opus 101: Piano Trio #3 in C Minor [October 2, 2008]
Opus 104: Five Partsongs (Gesänge) for Mixed Chorus [December 28, 2008]
Opus 106: Five Songs (Lieder) [January 10, 2006--REVISED June 5, 2010]
Opus 108: Violin Sonata #3 in D Minor [March 28, 2007--REVISED September 1, 2009]
Opus 110: Three Motets for Four- and Eight-Voice Mixed Chorus [August 19, 2009]
Opus 111: String Quintet #2 in G Major [September 29, 2009]
Opus 117: Three Intermezzi for Piano [April 2, 2011]
Opus 118: Six Piano Pieces (Klavierstücke) [December 28, 2005--REVISED August 3, 2009]
Opus 119: Four Piano Pieces (Klavierstücke) [August 3, 2009]
Opus 120, No. 1: Clarinet (or Viola) Sonata #1 in F Minor [November 23, 2012]
Opus 120, No. 2: Clarinet (or Viola) Sonata #2 in E-flat Major [December 26, 2012]
Opus 121: Four Serious Songs (Vier ernste Gesänge) for Bass Voice and Piano [May 31, 2010]
Opus 122: Eleven Chorale Preludes for Organ (posthumous) [April 8, 2014]


UPDATE (3/11/19): Hello, Brahms lovers!  If you have been coming to the site in the last five years or so (since 2014), you are aware that new guides have been few and far between during that time.  In November 2017, I received a request to start working on the Second Piano Concerto, which I agreed to do, knowing it was a big work that might take me a while to analyze.  I worked on it sporadically then and through 2018, but early this year, I decided to make a systematic plan to finish that guide and to hopefully return to regular production so that the last 34 opus numbers (at this point) can finally be posted to make the site quasi-complete.  After posting the guide, which gave me great satisfaction, I decided to take the initiative to do some long-delayed cleanup, especially in the later opus numbers beyond Op. 84.  When I revised the pre-2008 guides in 2009-2010, for some reason I never got around to revising Op. 84.  That was also the cause for me stopping there when updating score links, song keys, and other spruce-ups.  After posting the opus number directly preceding, I decided it was time to finally tackle this, which only took me a few hours.  That guide was still in a very early state, and did not even have bold timing and measure indexes.  Being thus in the mood again, I continued to clean up the site.  Here is what I accomplished:

1. Completely revised the guide for Op. 84, Romances and Songs for One or Two Voices, adding timings for a duet recording.
2. Went through all guides and added internal links, as I had started doing with earlier opus numbers in 2015.  I may have been a little obsessive with this, and there is certainly an element of overkill (many repeated internal links in the same heading, etc.), but I don't think the links are distracting from the text (they mainly appear in the introductory paragraphs).  I created “dummy” pages for opus numbers where the guide does not yet exist so that I could simply add all the links at once.
3. Fixed all the dead score links after Op. 84 and added score links to make these later guides consistent with the earlier ones, particularly with the addition of alternate keys for solo songs.  Added links to the IMSLP work page for the later opus numbers after Op. 84.
4. Fixed all the translation links, changing them from recmusic.org to lieder.net to avoid a redirect.  Emily Ezust’s site has permanently migrated.
5. Moved all the updates on this main page to the archive, which was long overdue.
6. Made every attempt to bring every guide to the same state as far as consistency in links to scores, translations, formatting, etc.

Granted, there are some guides from 2008 that could possibly use a revision (for example, Op. 101), but none of them are in the state that that the 2006 ones were before revision, and Op. 84 was a relic of that.  I would want to finish adding the remaining opus numbers before doing any further revisions.

I probably should update the header to the page and move those comments, but that is something that can wait, perhaps when the opus numbers are finally all available.

And in upsetting news, last July all of the Fischer-Dieskau/Barenboim song recordings disappeared from Spotify in the United States.  The DG complete edition was essentially withdrawn, and most of its recordings were assigned to other album art, but the Fischer-Dieskau songs were removed (the Jessye Norman ones are still available).  I inquired about this with Deutsche Grammophon, and while they wanted to be helpful, they really didn’t have a good answer as to why the recordings had been removed or when they would be available again in the U.S.  They told me to be patient and wait.  This obviously leaves a big hole in the playlist.  I hope they will come back.  I believe most other recordings on the playlist are still available, although I may need to find a new one for the Op. 16 Serenade.

Finally, I really do have to ask for donations again.  I hate to sound desperate, but the guides are available freely for anyone to use.  The hosting, which was once included with the domain, is now no longer bundled, and I pay a monthly fee for it.  And last May, I was forced to resign my position as classical music writer for the Daily Camera.  If the remaining 34 opus numbers are to be completed, the site needs to generate real income.  With only 27% of the opus numbers still remaining, I can still prioritize missing works that donors would like to see (if the donation is $20 or more--$50 would be preferred for this), but I also have to give some of the lesser remaining works my attention.

I think that’s all for now.  Thank you again for all of your encouragement and for your patience in the years of inactivity.


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NOTE ON MEASURE NUMBERS


All guides copyright 2004-2019 by Kelly Dean Hansen.  Feel free to use them in any way, but please give me credit.