Though Brahms' symphonies are often treated somewhat like medicine, as something 'good for you', but otherwise lacking in purely sensual pleasure, David Hurwitz takes the reader beyond the jargon and pedantry and unlocks the mystery (and the joy) contained within Brahms' symphonies. In short, Brahms was a musician's musician, in some respects and 'academic' (which is not to say 'pedantic') composer, and so it's practically impossible for professional scholars and musicians to approach his music without wanting to demonstrate at some point that they are as smart as Brahms, and uniquely able to unravel the technical intricacies of his larger works. For the general reader, this obviously represents a problem; indeed, it's not exactly a joy for the music professional either. Indeed, there is a sense in which Brahms' own seriousness of purpose is mistaken for a uniform seriousness of expression, with the result that his music is often treated somewhat like medicine, as something 'good for you', but otherwise lacking in purely sensual pleasure.
Brahms' well-known struggles with orchestration compound this impression, but since no less an authority than Ravel praised the orchestration of the Second Symphony, we know that this fact is, at best, a generalization only partially true. "Magnum Opus" is a series for anyone seeking a greater familiarity with the cornerstones of Western Classical Music - operatic, choral and symphonic. Always passionate, down-to-earth, and authoritative on the works and their creators, "Magnum Opus" is an indispensable resource for anyone's musical library and the perfect gift for the music-lover in your life.
David Hurwitz has been writing about classical music for more than twenty years. As a critic and commentator, his articles and essays have appeared in such well-known publications as High Fidelity, Opus, Classical Pulse!, In Tune, the New York Observer, Musical America, Stereo Review, CD Review, and numerous other magazines and newspapers, both in the U.S. and abroad. Founder and executive editor of www.ClassicsToday.com, the Internet's first classical music-daily review magazine, Hurwitz is also the author of eight books on subjects ranging from Haydn and Mozart to Mahler (The Mahler Symphonies: An Owner's Manual), Dvorak, Sibelius, and Shostakovich. He lives in New York.
Introduction; 1. The Romantic Crisis and the German Symphony "Brahms v. Wagner" controversy and the late 19c. notion of the symphony as a dead form; 2. The Brahms Symphony: General Style and Characteristic Sound; 3. Symphony No. 1; 4. Symphony No. 2; 5. Symphony No. 3; 6. Symphony No. 4; Epilogue: The German Symphony after Brahms.