CHANNES BRAHMS by Hans Gal

CHANNES BRAHMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Germany's Hans Gal here presents a highly informative and, in its Old World way, intimate discussion of Brahms, his personality, his era, his work. There are workshop analyses of the more important compositions and perusals of letters, green room controversies and resurrected chit chat. In youth Brahms was a soft-as-snow idealist; as he grew older he hardened into ice. Even so he hungered for human contact, though he believed ""No man can look inside another one"". Schumann acclaimed him as ""he who is to come"", the great craftsman of the future, but during his day the Wagner cult was supreme and Brahms suffered accordingly; today the critical tables have turned. Beethoven influenced his symphonies, Schubert his lieder, and the last theme of his last song-cycle turned out to have also occurred in his first sonata, an acknowledged repeat. Made to order for the serious sophomore, the book has one glaring lack-psychological sophistication. Brahms' lifelong self-imposed celibacy, his ambivalent feelings towards women and the sustained pseudo-romantic relationship with Schumann's wife, 14 years his senior, are all approached as if Sigmund Freud had never been.

Publisher: Knopf