​Walter Frisch and Kevin C. Karnes, eds, Brahms and His World (Princeton: Princeton University Press) commissioned for Music Analysis 31/1 (Spring 2011) 140–150.

Nicole Grimes


Nicole Grimes


more than the descriptions in this essay, the attention to detail and erudition of which nonetheless conjure up vivid tonal images.The accounts of the lives of thepianos that Brahms possessed for any lengthy period – such as the Graf bequeathed to him by Clara Schumann and the J. B. Streicher that he acquiredin 1872 for hisVienna apartment – will resonate with anyone who has seen theseinstruments on display in the Musikinstrumentsammlung of the Kunsthis-torisches Museum inVienna, or in many of the well-known images of Brahms,some of which are reproduced in this volume. In addition, a selection of Brahms’s correspondence reveals the composer’s thoughts on the differencesbetween Viennese- and English-action pianos and between various sizes of Viennese instruments. Not only the authors’ expertise, but also their infectiousenthusiasm and affection for the subject, provides much to recommend thisessay.In-keeping with the agenda of the Bard Music Festival Series, which under-takes to explore a given composer’s life, music and times, the material providedin Parts Two and Three are integral to this project. In addition to the primarysources available in the 1990 edition, the editors have commissioned Kevin C.Karnes to translate a number of Eduard Hanslick’s reviews and Heinrich Schen-ker’s 1892 analysis of Brahms’sA Capella Choral Pieces,Op.104;William Millerto translate Max Kalbeck’s 1914 essay on the

Four Serious Songs

, Op. 121; andStyra Avins to translate Richard Heuberger’s ‘My Early Acquaintance withBrahms’. In addition, two fleeting reminiscences of Brahms by Zemlinsky andKarl Weigl are translated by Walter Frisch, and Joseph Eisinger translates amemoir of Brahms by Heinz von Beckerath.The value of these sources for Brahms scholarship is inestimable. Particularlyexciting are the first-hand accounts of the time Brahms spent with RichardHeuberger (with only brief excerpts of this having been previously available intranslation in the dissertation of Holly E. Hughes) and Gustav Jenner.


Thecorrespondence with Billroth, Joachim and the Heubergers is similarly the mostvaluable window we have in the Brahms


onto Brahms’s views, aboutwhich he was famously reticent, of his own compositional process. Jenner’smemoir is significantly more detailed and extensive in this regard. Whereasexcerpts of it were available in the 1990 edition,this is the first time the completetext has been presented in translation.With all of the bad press that Kalbeck hasreceived in recent years for the liberties he took in writing his biography,his essayon the

Four Serious Songs

serves as a reminder of the continued value of hisfour-volume biography; and, as Karnes reminds us in his introduction to theessay, it also displays ‘Kalbeck’s widely noted penchant for vividly evocativeanalytical elucidation’ (p. 267).The illustrations included in this volume offer a further rich resource,although it is a pity that the editors did not provide a list of these in the openingpages. Of particular note are the 1902 portrait of Max Reger (p. 130), thephotographs of Robert Hausmann and Brahms by Maria Fellinger (p. 148) andamong other friends as captured by Eugen von Miller Aichholz (p. 159), the

148 C




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© 2011The Authors.Music Analysis © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd


images of Klinger’s


which are central to Karnes’s piece (pp.174, 178, 179 and 182), the title-page woodcut from Nietzsche’s

The Birth of Tragedy

(p. 181) and the headshots of Richard Heuberger (p. 341) and Gustav Jenner (p. 383). In a book containing only black-and-white print, however, thesereproductions have only limited quality. In this digital age, it would be of furtherbenefit if the editors designed an accompanying website to house high-qualitydigital reproductions.






1. David Brodbeck (ed.),

Brahms Studies

,3 vols (Lincoln,NE,and London:Universityof Nebraska Press, 1994, 1998 and 2001).2. Styra Avins, ‘The Young Brahms: Biographical Data Reexamined’,

19th-Century Music

, 24/iii (2001), pp. 276–89; and Jan Swafford, ‘Did theYoung Brahms PlayPiano inWaterfront Bars?’,

19th-Century Music

, 24/iii (2001), pp. 268–75.3. Boman Desai, ‘The Boy Brahms’,

19th-Century Music

, 27/ii (2003), pp. 132–6.Desai subsequently published the novel

Trio: a Novel about the Schumanns and Brahms

(Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2004).4. Johannes Brahms,

Johannes Brahms:Life and Letters

, trans. Josef Eisinger and StyraAvins (NewYork and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).5. See Kurt Hofmann, ‘Brahms the Hamburg Musician 1833–1862’, in MichaelMusgrave (ed.),

The Cambridge Companion to Brahms

(Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press,1999),pp.3–30;and Kurt Stephenson,

 Johannes Brahms und FritzSimrock: Weg einer Freundschaft 

(Hamburg: J. J. Augustin, 1961), and

JohannesBrahms und die Familie von Beckerath

(Hamburg: Christians, 1979).6. Florence May,

The Life of Johannes Brahms

, 2 vols (London: Reeves, 1905).7. Hans Gál,

 Johannes Brahms:HisWork and Personality

,trans.Joseph Stein (NewYork:Alfred A. Knopf, 1963; originally published as

Johannes Brahms:Werk und Persön-lichkeit 

[Frankfurt: Fischerei Bücherei, 1961]).8. Walter Niemann,


, trans. Catherine Alison Philips (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1929).9. Daniel Beller-McKenna,

Brahms and the German Spirit 

(Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 2004).10. Brahms’s grievance was with Liszt and Franz Brendel, not withWagner.This is animportant distinction. See David Brodbeck’s essays both in the 1990 edition of 

Brahms and His World 

and in the current volume.See also Nicole Grimes,‘Brahms’sCritics: Continuity and Discontinuity in the Critical Reception of JohannesBrahms’ (PhD diss., University of Dublin,Trinity College, 2008), Ch. 1.11. See Nancy Reich’s essay in the volume under review, and Reich,

Clara Schumann:the Artist and the Woman

(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985; rev. edn,2001), particularly Chs 5–7.






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12. Reich,

Clara Schumann

.13. Reinhold Brinkmann, ‘Zeitgenossen: Johannes Brahms und die Maler Feuerbach,Böcklin, Klinger und Menzel’, in Friedhelm Krummacher, Michael Struck, Con-stantin Floros and Peter Petersen (eds),

Johannes Brahms:Quellen –Text – Rezeption– Interpretation:Internationaler Brahms-Kongress,Hamburg 1997 

(Munich: G. Henle,1999), pp. 71–94; Beller-McKenna,

Brahms and the German Spirit 

; and MargaretNotley,

Lateness and Brahms: Music and Culture in theTwilight ofViennese Liberalism

(Oxford and NewYork: Oxford University Press, 2007).14. Jon Finson, review of George S. Bozarth (ed.),

Brahms Studies: Analytical and Historical Perspectives

and Walter Frisch (ed.),

Brahms and HisWorld 


Journal of theRoyal Musical Association

, 117 (1992), pp. 152–7.15. For readers interested in the topic of Brahms as a performer broached in the firstpart of this essay,it is not clear what Moseley adds that hadn’t already been coveredby Michael Musgrave in Ch. 12, ‘Brahms the Pianist’, in

A Brahms Reader 

(NewHaven, CT, and London:Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 121–35. Many of theexcerpts quoted are similar in both, although Musgrave’s exploration of the topic ismore comprehensive and follows a clear chronology, and the excerpts are moresubstantial.16. See Carl Dahlhaus,

Nineteenth-Century Music

, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berke-ley, CA: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 137–8.The critique of virtuosityin nineteenth-century music is addressed in Dana Gooley, ‘The Battle againstInstrumentalVirtuosity in the Early Nineteenth Century’, in Christopher H. Gibbsand Dana Gooley (eds),

Liszt and HisWorld 

(Princeton, NJ: Princeton UniversityPress, 2006), pp. 75–111.17. Eduard Hanslick,‘Brahms:Zweites Clavierconcert in B-dur’,in

Concerte,Componis-ten undVirtuosen der letzten fünfzehn Jahre,1870–1885:Kritiken

(Berlin:AllgemeinerVerein für Deutsche Literatur, 1886), pp. 298–303; this translation is taken fromGrimes, ‘Brahms’s Critics’, p. 276.18. Robert S. Hatten,

Interpreting Musical Gestures,Topics,andTropes:Mozart,Beethoven,Schubert 

(Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004).19. See, for instance, George S. Bozarth and Margaret Debenham, ‘Piano Wars: theLegal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795–1806’,

RMA ResearchChronicle

, 42 (2009), pp. 45–108.20. Holly Elaine Hughes, ‘Richard Heuberger’s “Erinnerungen an Johannes Brahms”:the Life, Work, and Times of Johannes Brahms as Revealed by a Contemporary’(DA diss., Ball State University, 1987).






earned her doctorate atTrinity College Dublin in 2008 with herdissertation on the critical reception of Brahms. Her research focusses on theintersection between nineteenth- and twentieth-century German music criti-cism, music analysis and music aesthetics. She was recently awarded a MarieCurie Postdoctoral Fellowshi



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