Johannes Brahms composed for piano, symphony orchestras, vice, chorus and chamber ensembles. He was a virtuoso pianist and played many of his own works. He worked with Clara Shumann and Joseph Joachim. His works are the staples of modern concerts. He was a perfectionist and destroyed some of this works and left others to rot away. Born on May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany, Brahms was a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is rooted in the techniques of the classical masters. He wrote music in a highly constructed nature.
Brahms composed steadily throughout the 1850s and 1860s but his music was highly criticized and his Piano Concerto No. 1 was badly received. He works were labeled old fashioned. His premiere of A German Requiem, a large choral work, finally confirmed his reputation as a composer and lead to his fame. He finished Rinaldo as well as a third piano quartet, first string quartet, and his initial symphony in 1876. He composed three symphonies in the years between 1877 to 1885.
Brahms travelled frequently and often composed in the summer months in Italy. He was visited by Thomas Edison who invited him to make an experimental recording. Brahms played a version of his Hungarian dance on the piano. The recording was largely inaudible, but it still remains the earliest recording made by a major composer.
In 1894 Brahms composed Clarinet Trio, Op. 114, Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115 and two Clarinet Sonatas. He wrote piano pieces, Opp. 116-119, the Vier Ernste Gesange, Op. 121 in 1896 and the Eleven Choral Preludes for organ, Op. 122 in 1896. Brahms died on April 3, 1897 of cancer.