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Old 01-11-2017, 07:40 AM   #1
Humoresque
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Beethoven, Brahms and Vienna

I'm wanting to highlight some points of interest in Swafford's wonderfully written biography of Brahms; in particular, his years in Vienna. One thing is significant about the musical milieu of Vienna; the growing middle class from the mid-late 19th century is increasingly well educated about all things musical. Swafford claims that 'music appreciation' is fundamental to this phenomenon. That Brahms stood astride the cognoscenti and the less well-educated general audiences in order to gain approval is an important feature of his compositional aesthetic. He conducted the Singverein (choir) and often put Bach on the program; the people thought that "Bach is good for you but too often hard to swallow". From this Brahms learned an important lesson about how far he could go with more 'difficult' music for his audiences.

This was a composer who understood the sociology of music and performance who was then able to introduce more challenging works to his audiences because he had garnered their respect. For this reason he remained committed to Vienna.

Transpose that idea to Beethoven who already felt the pointy end of changing musical fashions and fickle audiences in his own lifetime (even before deafness). He arose to that challenge by not providing one single concession to it and composing more abstract, formally diffuse music for the next generation.

Last edited by Humoresque; 01-11-2017 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:04 PM   #2
Peter
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This sounds also like Mozart - 'Music must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or, in other words, must never cease to be music.'
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