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Brahms: Symphony 1, First Movement

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: an application for admission into the “B” club

In Brahms’s time, many German composers shared a nagging fear that nobody could truly progress past where Beethoven had left off. This anxiety was one of the reasons it took Brahms over twenty years to complete his first symphony! To be fair, he wasn’t actively working on the symphony this entire time. But his hesitation still remains telling of how Beethoven dominated this genre. Brahms’s position in the “Three B’s,” was not always so certain. When this phrase was first coined in the 1850s by music critic Peter Cornelius, it was intended to elevate Berlioz to the status of the Bach and Beethoven! It was conductor Hans von Bülow who later substituted Brahms into this formula. Bülow also coined the nickname “Beethoven’s Tenth” for Brahms’s (finally completed) symphony.

Music Heard On This Episode

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1, Mvt. 1
Berlin Philharmonic; Herbert von Karajan, cond. — Brahms: The Complete Symphonies (Deutsche Grammophon, 1998)
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album cover
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1, Mvt. 1
Berlin Philharmonic; Herbert von Karajan, cond. — Brahms: The Complete Symphonies (Deutsche Grammophon, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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