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 Post subject: Brahms
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 12:53 am 
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Maybe we should have a separate forum for composers? Since we don't I thought this is the next best place.

I came across an article today and found it very interesting. I will admit that I have not done much research on Brahms and what I understood was that he and Clara Schumann never had a 'romantic' relationship - only a friendship. This article clearly states otherwise. You'll find the article here. Is everything in that article true?

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:20 pm 
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Personally, I doubt it. But I don't think we'll ever know. Considering the fierce loyal streak that Brahms showed towards his tiny inner circle of friends (the few who tolerated his utter social ineptitude), I think it entirely possible that Brahms cared for her the way he did because of his deep friendship with her late husband.

As I remember, Schoenberg speculated on their relationship in his book on composers. I think he concluded that their relationship was probably just a friendship. although a deep and heartfelt one.

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:46 pm 
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A tiny theatre in Hollywood recently presented a play that tries to answer the Brahms/Clara question , "Trio", by pianist Israela Margalit (http://www.socal.com/7002/172/Trio++Mus ... dness.html)

The music and its coordination with the action onstage were terrific, and as the reviewer says, the first act was excellent. However, although I'm neither musicologist nor starry eyed idealist, I found the "menage a trois" second act a little disturbing. Johannes and Clara did live in the Schumann house together, and it's entirely possible that they could have found themselves in each others' arms and perhaps even "slipped" and consummated the relationship. However, the play posits an ongoing sexual relationship that just doesn't seem consistent with their personalities as we know them or the previling mores of the late 19th century. If you ever get a chance to see the play, do post your reaction here!


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:04 pm 
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cdales wrote:
If you ever get a chance to see the play, do post your reaction here


I love movies or plays about famous classical composers, so I hope the show you mention does come to a place near me sometime.

cdales wrote:
I found the "menage a trois" second act a little disturbing


I used to think that people back then were very prim and proper, but I don't totally think that way anymore. Especially when it comes to Europeans. I may get blasted for this, but I think Europeans are much more promiscuous than Americans are. Maybe it was like that back in the 19th century too...

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:20 am 
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pianolady wrote:
cdales wrote:
If you ever get a chance to see the play, do post your reaction here


I love movies or plays about famous classical composers, so I hope the show you mention does come to a place near me sometime.

cdales wrote:
I found the "menage a trois" second act a little disturbing


I used to think that people back then were very prim and proper, but I don't totally think that way anymore. Especially when it comes to Europeans. I may get blasted for this, but I think Europeans are much more promiscuous than Americans are. Maybe it was like that back in the 19th century too...


I would not say "European". The French and the English attitute to these things were quite different, almost the way you see "American" and "European".

I very much doubt this story. Brahms was not one to be interested in normal women, having only seen the "pros" in younger days when he way playing in seedy joints to earn a penny or two. Witness the fact he never married. Not to be overlooked the modern tendency to drag anyone important in the mud, as if to say, "I am worthless, so is must everybody else be and if they are not, I will make them be".

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:22 am 
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richard66 wrote:
Brahms was not one to be interested in normal women, having only seen the "pros" in younger days when he way playing in seedy joints to earn a penny or two. Witness the fact he never married. Not to be overlooked the modern tendency to drag anyone important in the mud, as if to say, "I am worthless, so is must everybody else be and if they are not, I will make them be".

I'm not following this train of thought. The fact that someone never marries does not mean he is not interested in normal women, not even if he used professional services at some stage. I guess there are plenty of examples of composers who hanker for a relationship but never find it for one reason or another. And with that 'modern tendency' you've lost me totally. Did Brahms believe he was worthless and did he therefore want to denigrate women ?
I'd like to believe he was more self-assured and noble than that (even though it is well known he did not always know how to behave in company).

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:53 pm 
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I mean that his first contact with women was with prostitutes and, to the end of his life, he was not able to relate to women who were not in that capacity, unless it was firendship, of course. This is well-documented (and it says so in this article). Actually the article is not too far wrong and my comments related to the play, as described above.

I was not sayong Brahms denigrated himself. I say that nowadays every famous name must be dragged in the mud and books abound where it is suggested that St so and so really had 5 wives or that St so and so again was a drug addict and so on. Look at the way they have portrayed Mozart, for example. I agree he had his bad moments, but surely ge was not a half-witted giggling Baboon as he has been shown.

And then, does it matter? Is Brahms' (or Mozart's) music any better or any worse for it?

I start to think it is best policy not to read composers' biographies. I did that mistake once and read one and now I cannot listen to his music and give an unbiased opinion. Why? Because I discovered that this composer was the chairman of the Composer's Union of Russia: the very one who persecuted Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:02 pm 
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Wasn't it common for men back then to get their first sexual experience with a prostitute? I wonder why this was such a big deal for Brahms - why couldn't he become involved with 'regular' women later on....?

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:05 pm 
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Because he was a child being exposed to this for days on end and not as a client, but as a spectator. I would add that this very possibly came into conflict with the image he had of his mother, but I might be talking nonsense here.

Would you not go off men if during your childhood all men you saw beat their wives, for example?

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:01 am 
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Oh, that's bad! I didn't know Brahms grew up like that, nor have I ever been in such a situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:48 pm 
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It says as much in the article you mention and I have read the same story elsewhere. This is why I disbelieve this story about the ménage à trois.

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