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Thread: The Difference Between Beethoven and Brahms

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    Senior Member Room2201974's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    Why spoil it, the music is coming very soon.
    No, I'm afraid it's not even breathing hard.
    The more I compose, the more I know that I don't know it all. I think it's a good way to start. If you think you know it all, the work becomes a repetition of what you've already done. ~ A. R. Rahman

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    While both were heavily influenced by Mozart, I think Brahms is the more mozartian of the two. On the other hand, Beethoven is more original. Brahms sometimes can be a litle pedantic in showing his contrapuntal skills. I claim that Beethoven was as gifted as Brahms in this regard, but he was not pedantic, he understood that counterpoint is a compositional tool, not something to show off, he was much more preoccupied in finding his true voice, he was a really transparent individual, while Brahms a bit of a coward since he liked to mask his true self with that kind of technical virtuosim. At the personal level, Beethoven would desperately try to marry Clara if he were in Brahms' position after Schumann's death. Similar considerations apply to Ravel vs Debussy, Ravel being the pedantic one.

    For the record, all of these composers are among my favorites anyway.
    Last edited by aleazk; Feb-26-2020 at 04:56.

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  5. #153
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    Why spoil it, the music is coming very soon.
    You do understand how put up or shut up works, right? In civil discourse among people of integrity, it's the conventional way in which perennially unsupported claims are challenged. One is given a choice to either back them up (that's the put up part) or to refrain from making them until one is ready to substantiate them (that's the shut up part). Those are the two socially acceptable options. To do neither is taken as evidence that one is participating in bad faith. It is to behave dishonorably. So, given that you are steadfastly refusing to put up, can we trust that you'll behave honorably and shut up until that "very soon" time when your genius is revealed?
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Feb-26-2020 at 06:34.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Someday, many years from now, Schroeder, bespectacled, balding and playing a nine-foot, six-inch Boesendorfer Imperial Concert Grand with 97 keys, will be asked for the answer to life, and he will shout, "1996D is IT, clear and simple!!! Do you UNDERSTAND???" Lucy, in her one-hundred-fourth year, will be deaf and unable to hear either the answer or the music of 1996D. She will merely smile and hum, softly to herself, the "Moonlight Sonata" (the last music she heard before age took her hearing), happy that Schroeder is as capable as ever of that superior aesthetic agitation which only the most heroic and redemptive art can inspire.

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    Senior Member Room2201974's Avatar
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    Well
    ............I
    .......for
    ..........one
    .........wish
    .................to
    ...........point
    ...................out
    .............Brahms'
    ..............love
    ..............of
    ......................ripping
    ...............away
    .................................................. ...............................................mel ody
    ...........................from
    meter
    ............................in
    ...........................a
    .......................way
    ......................that
    .................................................. ................foreshadows
    ...B r a q u e
    .........and
    Pic. asso
    Last edited by Room2201974; Feb-26-2020 at 13:37.
    The more I compose, the more I know that I don't know it all. I think it's a good way to start. If you think you know it all, the work becomes a repetition of what you've already done. ~ A. R. Rahman

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  12. #157
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    I always did find it fascinating how Beethoven left such a huge body of music (albeit mostly from his youth) that is totally out of the repertoire. Folk song arrangements (actually his most prolific genre)? String trios? Mandolin sonatas? Works for mechanical clock? All sorts of chamber music with horns, oboes, and trombones? A bunch of little piano trifles? 10 violin sonatas, out of which only 2 are in the standard repertoire, and a similar thing with the piano trios? Put that way, the quantity of Beethoven's music which we consider to be hugely influential and among the greatest music ever written is quite small. So judging solely based on "uniform quality of output throughout life," the award has to go to Brahms! Yeah, he wrote a couple choral works that nobody's heard of, and some criminally underrated organ music, but that's about it. But then again, that blasted Double Concerto is almost enough to make me reconsider that position

  13. #158
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    I always did find it fascinating how Beethoven left such a huge body of music (albeit mostly from his youth) that is totally out of the repertoire. Folk song arrangements (actually his most prolific genre)? String trios? Mandolin sonatas? Works for mechanical clock? All sorts of chamber music with horns, oboes, and trombones? A bunch of little piano trifles? 10 violin sonatas, out of which only 2 are in the standard repertoire, and a similar thing with the piano trios? Put that way, the quantity of Beethoven's music which we consider to be hugely influential and among the greatest music ever written is quite small. So judging solely based on "uniform quality of output throughout life," the award has to go to Brahms! Yeah, he wrote a couple choral works that nobody's heard of, and some criminally underrated organ music, but that's about it. But then again, that blasted Double Concerto is almost enough to make me reconsider that position
    A look at a catalogue of the music of Brahms reveals quite a large quantity of music that's rarely or never performed:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ohannes_Brahms

    Your "couple of choral works" turns out to be a lengthy list of works for various combinations of voices. How much of his immense output of songs gets a regular hearing? Ever hear "Hymn in Veneration of the Great Joachim" for string trio? How many pianists program his gavottes, gigues, sarabandes, canons and transcriptions of his own and others' music? He wrote numerous works for piano duo, but do piano duos ever program them? And what about Rinaldo, that cantata famous for the fact that nobody has heard it? We'll have to disagree about the organ music and the Double Concerto; I find most of the former dreary - it doesn't surprise me that it isn't well-known - and the latter very enjoyable.

    Given that Brahms is said to have consigned a lot of music he considered inferior to the fireplace (although some of it slipped through anyway), we probably have a distorted view of both his output and his consistency as a composer. I also suspect that performers would disagree with you about the value of Beethoven's chamber music. You may know only two of his violin sonatas, but I've known the whole set for years and can assure you that the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" are not the only masterpieces among them.

    Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies; Brahms 4. Beethoven wrote 5 piano concertos; Brahms 2. Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets; Brahms 4. Beethoven wrote 10 violin sonatas; Brahms 3. Beethoven wrote 5 cello sonatas; Brahms 2. Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas; Brahms 3. Beethoven wrote 1 opera; Brahms 0. Brahms also had seven more years in which to turn out mature works. But really, I don't think quantifying in this way is a very good way of evaluating the greatness of composers.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Feb-26-2020 at 18:21.

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  15. #159
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    A look at a catalogue of the music of Brahms reveals quite a large quantity of music that's rarely or never performed:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ohannes_Brahms

    Your "couple of choral works" turns out to be a lengthy list of works for various combinations of voices. How much of his immense output of songs gets a regular hearing? Ever hear "Hymn in Veneration of the Great Joachim" for string trio? How many pianists program his gavottes, gigues, sarabandes, canons and transcriptions of his own and others' music? He wrote numerous works for piano duo, but do piano duos ever program them? And what about Rinaldo, that cantata famous for the fact that nobody has heard it? We'll have to disagree about the organ music and the Double Concerto; I find most of the former dreary - it doesn't surprise me that it isn't well-known - and the latter very enjoyable.

    Given that Brahms is said to have consigned a lot of music he considered inferior to the fireplace (although some of it slipped through anyway), we probably have a distorted view of both his output and his consistency as a composer. I also suspect that performers would disagree with you about the value of Beethoven's chamber music. You may know only two of his violin sonatas, but I've known the whole set for years and can assure you that the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" are not the only masterpieces among them.

    Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies; Brahms 4. Beethoven wrote 5 piano concertos; Brahms 2. Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets; Brahms 4. Beethoven wrote 10 violin sonatas; Brahms 3. Beethoven wrote 5 cello sonatas; Brahms 2. Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas; Brahms 3. Beethoven wrote 1 opera; Brahms 0. Brahms also had seven more years in which to turn out mature works. But really, I don't think quantifying in this way is a very good way of evaluating the greatness of composers.
    Hats off for a thorough dismantling of my assertions! I do not really believe in the “method of greatness” I used here, I was just bringing it up to make a (possibly irrelevant) point. I do agree that the quality of their outputs is very similar in that they both wrote established masterpieces in every major genre of the time (except Brahms with opera, and you could argue that his piano sonatas and quartets were not up to par with LvB either. OK, they weren’t, but I still consider them masterpieces!) And I do love many of Beethoven’s lesser-known violin sonatas, but they certainly don’t seem to be performed/recorded/talked about as often. Bottom line: these “comparison” exercises I find to be mostly futile. Brahms had to live under the shadow of Beethoven his whole life. Let’s give him some respect and assess him posthumously as he deserves: he was a totally unique compositional voice that used mastery of classical forms and techniques to produce deeply rich and satisfying music.

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    Senior Member Red Terror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Brahms had to live under the shadow of Beethoven his whole life. Let’s give him some respect and assess him posthumously as he deserves: he was a totally unique compositional voice that used mastery of classical forms and techniques to produce deeply rich and satisfying music.
    I am not so sure Brahms lived under anyone's shadow (other than his own). His work stands on its own and there is hardly any need to compare him to Beethoven. They were two very different composers.
    Last edited by Red Terror; Feb-26-2020 at 19:13.

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  18. #161
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Terror View Post
    I am not so sure Brahms lived under anyone's shadow (other than his own). His work stands on its own and there is hardly any need to compare him to Beethoven. They were two very different composers.
    Perhaps more of a “psychological” shadow considering the pained gestation of his 1st symphony and string quartets - he was afraid of “doing Beethoven disrespect” by not putting his total efforts into the genres that Beethoven excelled at. And then, of course, all his fervent work was met with the patently ridiculous treatment of his symphony as “Beethoven’s 10th.”

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    Senior Member Room2201974's Avatar
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    "It was in the early 1870s, still terrified at the prospect of going up against Beethoven, that Brahms spoke his famous words to conductor Hermann Levi: “I’ll never write a symphony! You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we’re always hearing a giant like that behind us.” The closer he came to string quartet and symphony, both of which he had attempted and so far failed to bring off, the louder the tramp of Beethoven and the other giants resounded in his mind."

    ~ Jan Swafford, Johannes Brahms, a Biography

    Brahms would labor 15 years on his first symphony and destroyed 20 string quartets prior to his first one completed in 1873.
    Last edited by Room2201974; Feb-26-2020 at 20:38.
    The more I compose, the more I know that I don't know it all. I think it's a good way to start. If you think you know it all, the work becomes a repetition of what you've already done. ~ A. R. Rahman

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  21. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    You do understand how put up or shut up works, right? In civil discourse among people of integrity, it's the conventional way in which perennially unsupported claims are challenged. One is given a choice to either back them up (that's the put up part) or to refrain from making them until one is ready to substantiate them (that's the shut up part). Those are the two socially acceptable options. To do neither is taken as evidence that one is participating in bad faith. It is to behave dishonorably. So, given that you are steadfastly refusing to put up, can we trust that you'll behave honorably and shut up until that "very soon" time when your genius is revealed?
    Can you wait a week? I wouldn't be talking if it wasn't very soon; the stage will be set.
    Last edited by 1996D; Feb-26-2020 at 23:44.

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    Senior Member Tallisman's Avatar
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    Brahms was overall a hipper cat. His music always feels less personal than Beethoven, and so there are less obvious idiosyncrasies (to my ears), making him harder to imitate or parody than Beethoven.

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    [ " By the early seventies, Brahms's relation to Beethoven seems to have nearly taken the form of an "inferiority complex," as suggested by the well-known remark to Hermann Levy: "I shall never compose a symphony! You have no idea what it feels like always to hear such a giant [Beethoven] marching at one's back." " ]

    Throughout his life, Brahms was obsessed trying to equal Beethoven's achievements. By the end of his life Brahms probably thought he didn't really succeed. Brahms was probably insecure how the posterity would judge him by comparing with Beethoven when he said this in 1896:

    [ "I always find Beethoven's C Minor concerto (the Third Piano Concerto) much smaller and weaker than Mozart's. . . . I realize that Beethoven's new personality and his new vision, which people recognized in his works, made him the greater composer in their minds. But after fifty years, our views need more perspective. One must be able to distinguish between the charm that comes from newness and the value that is intrinsic to a work. I admit that Beethoven's concerto is more modern, but not more significant!I also realize that Beethoven's First Symphony made a strong impression on people. That's the nature of a new vision. But the last three Mozart symphonies are far more significant. . . . Yes, the Rasumovsky quartets, the later symphonies—these inhabit a significant new world, one already hinted at in his Second Symphony. But what is much weaker in Beethoven compared to Mozart, and especially compared to Sebastian Bach, is the use of dissonance. Dissonance, true dissonance as Mozart used it, is not to be found in Beethoven. Look at Idomeneo. Not only is it a marvel, but as Mozart was still quite young and brash when he wrote it, it was a completely new thing. What marvelous dissonance! What harmony! You couldn't commission great music from Beethoven since he created only lesser works on commission—his more conventional pieces, his variations and the like. When Haydn or Mozart wrote on commission, it was the same as their other works." ]
    PA134
    PA135

    I think this was Brahm's way of telling the posterity: "Don't judge my achievements too harshly by comparing them with Beethoven's". Interestingly, Berlioz had a view Mozart and Beethoven polar-opposite of Brahms. Here's a 16-page article on this subject, which I find very interesting: Mozartian_Undercurrents_in_Berlioz_Appre.pdf
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Feb-27-2020 at 05:07.

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