Johannes Brahms
(b Hamburg, 7 May 1833; d Vienna, 3 April 1897). German composer. The successor to Beethoven and Schubert in the larger forms of chamber and orchestral music, to Schubert and Schumann in the miniature forms of piano pieces and songs, and to the Renaissance and Baroque polyphonists in choral music, Brahms creatively synthesized the practices of three centuries with folk and dance idioms and with the language of mid- and late 19th-century art music. His works of controlled passion, deemed reactionary and epigonal by some, progressive by others, became well accepted in his lifetime.
Brahms revived chamber music after the death of Schumann, one of its greatest Romantic practitioners, and defined it for the later 19th century. Across 40 years, from the Piano Trio op.8 (1854) to the Clarinet Sonatas op.120 (1894), ranges a corpus of 24 complete works that is arguably the greatest after Beethoven. For many commentators, chamber music captures Brahms's basic creative personality, as the music drama does Wagner's.

updated: 8/11/2011