Brahms: The Four Symphonies


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Walter Frisch

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This book is the definitive guide to Johannes Brahms’s four symphonies. It presents an engaging and thorough treatment of the genesis, structure, reception, and performance history of these internationally admired and frequently performed works. Walter Frisch provides a sensitive analytical commentary on the symphonies as well as a consideration of their place within Brahms’s oeuvre, within the symphonic repertory of his day, and within the broader musical culture of nineteenth-century Germany and Austria. Frisch also pays particular attention to the evolution of performance style since Brahms’s symphonies were first heard.
The book begins with an investigation of the different ideologies of the symphony in the decades leading up to Brahms’s First. Brahms’s early development as a composer is also examined. Frisch then devotes a detailed chapter to each of the four symphonies, including an in-depth analysis of each movement. A separate chapter treats the reception of Brahms’s symphonies, and the book concludes with a history of the performances of the symphonies in the concert hall and in early recordings.

Walter Frisch is professor of music at Columbia University. He is a specialist in the music of composers from the Austro-German sphere in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has written many articles and two books on Brahms and was founding president of the American Brahms Society.

“Here is a book which, carefully read, can hardly fail to enhance one’s admiration for the scope, complexity and originality of Brahms’s achievement.”—Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine

“This book is both rich and concise. . . . Frisch notes that there hasn’t been a book on Brahms’s symphonies published in English since 1939; this superb book was worth the wait, and is not likely to be superseded any time soon. Brahms lovers should not miss it.”—Bernard D. Sherman, Fanfare

Four Symphonies provides an excellent comprehensive introduction to both the symphonies and the burgeoning scholarly apparatus that now surrounds them.”—David Pacun, Notes

ISBN: 9780300099652
Publication Date: December 11, 2003
240 pages, 6 x 9
40 b/w illus.
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