- Piano Concerto No. 1 (Brahms)
Johannes Brahmscomposed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor (Op. 15) in 1858, giving the first public performance in Hamburg, Germanythe following year.
The concerto is in the traditional three movements and lasts approximately between 40 and 50 minutes.
#:The first movement is in sonata form, divided into five sections: orchestral introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda. The introduction is inspired by the opening movement of
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (including also the same juxtaposition of D minor and B flat major) and the movement is colossal, lasting between 20 to 25 minutes. It is this strict adherence to forms used in the Classical Period that earned Brahmsa reputation for being musically "conservative". The theme consists of a descending line based simply on a chord. The main motifs/themes of this movement are introduced in the introduction and are well developed throughout the movement.
#Adagio (D major)
#:The theme of this calm second movement is based on a descending line, introduced by
bassoon. The outline of the melody echoes the intervals of the first five notes of the main theme of the first movement.
Rondo: Allegro non troppo (D minor → D major)
#:Overall, the structure of the Rondo finale is extremely similar to the rondo of
Beethoven's third piano concerto; transitions back to tonic sections are fiery and the coda is regal.
Brahms worked on the composition for some years, as was the case with many of his works. After a prolonged gestation period, it was first performed on
January 22, 1859, in Hanover, Germany, when Brahms was just 25 years old. Five days later, at Leipzig, an unenthusiastic audience hissed at the concerto, while critics savaged it, labelling it "perfectly unorthodox, banal and horrid". In a letter to his close personal friend, 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!"
Brahms originally conceived the work as a sonata for two pianos. Seeking a grander and fuller sound, Brahms later orchestrated the work in an attempt to transform it into a four-movement
symphony. However, he also found that unsatisfactory. Brahms ultimately decided that he had not sufficiently mastered the nuances of orchestral color to sustain a symphony, and instead relied on his skills as a pianist and composer for the piano to complete the work as a concerto. Brahms only retained the original material from the work's first movement; the remaining movements were discarded and two new ones were composed, yielding a work in the more usual three-movement concerto structure.
Brahms' biographers often note that the first sketches for the dramatic opening movement followed quickly on the heels of the 1854 suicide attempt of the composer's dear friend and mentor,
Robert Schumann, an event which caused great anguish for Brahms. He finally completed the concerto two years after Schumann's death in 1856, by which time his love for Schumann's widow, Clara Schumann, had fully blossomed.
The degree to which Brahms' personal experience is embedded in the concerto is hard to gauge since several other factors also influenced the musical expression of the piece. The epic mood links the work explicitly to the tradition of the "Beethoven symphony" that Brahms sought to emulate. The finale of the concerto, for example, is clearly modeled on the last movement of Beethoven's third piano concerto, while the concerto's key of
D minoris the same as both Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Mozart's dramatic Piano Concerto No. 20.
ymphonic and chamber techniques
The work reflects Brahms' effort to combine the piano with the
orchestraas equal partners, unlike earlier classical concertos, where the orchestra effectively accompanied the pianist. Even for the young Brahms, the concerto-as-showpiece had little appeal. Instead, he enlisted both orchestra and soloist in the service of the musical ideas; technically difficult passages in the concerto are never gratuitous, but extend and develop the thematic material. Such an approach is thoroughly in keeping with Brahms' artistic temperament, but also reflects the concerto's symphonic origins and ambitions. His effort drew on both chamber musictechniques and the pre-classical Baroque concerto grosso, an approach that later was fully realized in Brahms' Second Piano Concerto. This first concerto also demonstrates Brahms' particular interest in scoring for the timpaniand the horn, both of whose parts are notoriously difficult, with the timpani playing repeated notes for extended periods of time and the horn part being difficult for its many prominent usages with or without the piano.
Although a work of Brahms' youth, this concerto is a mature work that points forward to his later concertos and his First Symphony. Most notable are its scale and grandeur, as well as the thrilling technical difficulties it presents. As time passed, the work grew in popularity until it was recognized as a masterpiece.Fact|date=May 2008
Claudio Arrauwith Bernard Haitinkand Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nelson Freirewith Riccardo Chaillyand the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester.
Emil Gilelswith Eugen Jochum
Glenn Gouldwith Leonard Bernsteinand New York Philharmonic
*Glenn Gould with Peter Adler and the
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Radu Lupuwith Edo de Waart and London Symphony Orchestra
Maurizio Polliniwith Claudio Abbado
Krystian Zimermanwith Leonard Bernsteinand VPO
*Krystian Zimerman with
Simon Rattleand Berlin Philharmonic
Leon Fleisherwith George Szelland the Cleveland Orchestra
Use in film
The concerto was used as background music to the film "
The L-Shaped Room", in the recording by Peter Katin.
* [http://www.bh2000.net/score/orchbrah/ Brahms' Orchestral Works] (free music score of this composition available. In public domain.)
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2229566995616438070&q=fabio+bidini&hl=en Complete performance of the concerto] with Fabio Bidini, piano, Toshiyuki Kamioka conducting the Nordwestdeusche Philharmonie.
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