Whose Brahms Is It Anyway?

Walter Frisch

in Musical Meaning and Human Values

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230099
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235445 | DOI:
Whose Brahms Is It Anyway?

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This chapter explains the connection of Brahms to musical meaning and human values, which was shown through the 1927 novel of Hermann Hesse entitled Steppenwolf. Brahms is depicted as a composer of morbid excess and his music has been criticized as turgid and overladen. Brahms had been criticized because of the poor way of turning his works into music. Hesse pointed out that Brahms's scores are good but that musical performances of them were bad in the early twentieth century. In the transmission of musical meaning and values from the composer to the listener, a performance plays a vital role. A very good performance can enable a better and easier understanding of the musical and human values in every musical score being made.

Keywords: Brahms; Hermann Hesse; performance; music; Steppenwolf; human values

Chapter.  4752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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