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Johannes Brahms and Richard Dawkins on Franz Schubert (quotes)

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Here is the composer, Johannes Brahms regarding Schubert, the composer, I love most..


My love for Schubert is a very serious one, probably just because it is not a fleeting fancy. Where is genius like his, which soars aloft so boldly and surely, where we then see the first few enthroned? To me he is like a child of the gods, who plays with Jupiter's thunder, albeit also occasionally handling it oddly. But he plays in such a region, at such a height, to which the others are far short of raising themselves... [Letter from Brahms to Schubring, June 1863]

The true successor to Beethoven is not Mendelssohn, whose artistic cultivation was quite incomparable, also not Schumann, but Schubert. It is unbelievable, the music he put in his songs.

There is no song of Schubert's from which one cannot learn something. {Brahms to Gustav Jenner, quoted in his book Johannes Brahms als Mensch, Lehrer und K√ľnstler. Studien und Erlebnisse, Marburg, 1905]

Richard Dawkins

Schubert's musical brain is a wonder of improbability, even more so than the invertebrate's eye. [from his book The God Delusion

Where does 'beauty' come from?

Well I think beauty ultimately has to come from the way the brain is set up, so the brain is a devastatingly complicated mechanism. We're only just beginning to understand how it works. And our response to certain things as 'beautiful' must be explicable ultimately in those terms. I hesitate to say that, because some people think that that's in some way to demean it, which of course it isn't - it absolutely isn't. When I am moved to tears as I can be by the slow movement of a Schubert quartet, it is not in any sense to demean that experience, to say that there is nothing going on other than activity in my neurones.

Updated May-28-2011 at 05:49 by peeyaj

Classical Music , Composers


  1. Jobe's Avatar
    Ah, the picture where Brahms doesn't look like Santa.

    I too am moved to tears

    Albeit an interesting article. Although, to an extent, beauty is defined by society. For example, some nations have a different appreciation of musical harmony and timbre. Although there is something innately lovely about Schubert's second movements, including piano pieces... Or at least the few that I've played/listened too.
  2. regressivetransphobe's Avatar
    Good to know Dawkins found something outside his field of knowledge to talk about besides theology.