Happy Birthday, Brahms!

May 7 is Johannes Brahms birthday. You may remember this famous composer from his Lullaby.

Johannes Brahms, May 7, 1833 to April 3, 1897

We here at Sonoro Choral Society like Brahms because he was one of the first composers to actively support amateur women’s choral societies, just like us! In the 1850s, women’s choirs were new and lacked music to sing. Brahms and other friends founded an amateur women’s choir, wrote music for what grew to be 40 women, and directed their performances. They grew to be fairly popular, singing folk song arrangements and Brahms’s original compositions. Many of Brahm’s works for women are still used today. In fact, Sonoro Women’s Choir sang his 4 part Opus 17  last winter in our 2015 “Wisdom and Whimsy” concert. Check it out below!

Opus 17, “Vier Gesänge” is unusual for Brahms because the 4 part work recount stories of lament. However, they are written in Brahms trademark Romantic style. He pulls from a variety of texts and poems about unrequited love and uses the french horns and harp to set the texts in a pastoral context.

Brahms is also famous for using counterpoint in his works. Counterpoint is when two voice parts rely on each other for harmony, but have independent rhythms and contours. It makes for an acoustically interesting and vocally challenging, intricate piece.   See if you can find some counterpoint in these examples below.

Happy Birthday, Brahms!

SWC sing Brahms, Op.17 part 1 of 4

PS: Want more Brahms? Check out this further reading.

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