But Brahms felt intimidated by Schumann’s declaration of him as the next Beethoven. And with the late composer’s shadow still looming over everyone, Brahms wouldn’t even TRY to compose a symphony before he had more experience. So within days of Schumann’s suicide attempt, young Brahms began work on a large scale sonata for two pianos. Long story short, over the next four-plus years, what began as a sonata for two pianos became his first Piano Concerto which premiered in January 1859, his first orchestral work performed for a public audience. But it was so long and progressive audiences literally hissed after the performance. Daunted, Brahms wouldn’t premiere his first Symphony until 1876. But true to his confidence in the music, audiences evolved and his effort would soon be recognized as one of the great piano concertos (including the slow middle adagio movement which Brahms described to Clara as a “tender portrait” of her). The Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 is today’s Midday Masterpiece at 2:00 pm.
November 18, 2022