Brahms Blog: Performance History

Philharmonia Orchestra, 2014/15

And join us next season as we revisit the Brahms Violin Concerto and Symphonies No. 2 & 4 at the Royal Festival Hall, and continue to bring his outstanding compositions to a new generation of classical concert-goers

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Klemperer Boxset

...or with this recently issued Warner Classics Klemperer boxset, including Philharmonia recordings of all the Brahms symphonies and Ein deutsches Requiem

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Dohnányi, 2008

Our Brahms Cycle may be over but you can continue to enjoy his work with some great Philharmonia recordings, including our 2008 symphony cycle with Chistoph von Dohnányi

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'Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind' - Johannes Brahms

Sinopoli, 1987

...where we performed the Requiem again 3 years later with Giuseppe Sinopoli, Marie McLaughlin, Benjamin Luxon and the Philharmonia Chorus

Giulini, 1984

In 1984 Carlo Maria Giulini conducted Kathleen Battleand Siegmund Nimsgren in a performance of the German Requiem at the Royal Festival Hall...

Klemperer, 1961

…who went on to record the Requiem with us and Otto Klemperer in 1961

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Schwarzkopf, 1949

We first performed the Brahms Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall in 1949 with a stellar line-up including the legendary Elisabeth Schwarzkopf…

James Rutherford: Profile Interview

Ahead of his performance in Ein deutsches Requiem, James Rutherford sat down with us to discuss Brahms, Nelsons and life on the road in this profile interview

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Mackerras, 2005

In 2005 the legendary Sir Charles Mackerras concluded his Brahms Symphony Cycle with the Second Symphony

Klemperer, 1956

...who also recorded the symphony that very same year!

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Klemperer, 1956

A year after recording with von Karajan, we performed Symphony No. 2 at the Royal Festival Hall with Maestro Otto Klemperer

von Karajan, 1955

…or if retro is your thing, why not give this 1955 von Karajan recording a try?

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Dohnányi, 2008

Prepare for Thursday's performance of Brahms's Symphony No. 2 with our 2008 Dohnányi recording, available via our online shop

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Muti, 1984

…and in 1984 Riccardo Muti conducted Kyung Wha Chung in performance at the Royal Festival Hall

Rattle, 1980

1980 saw the then 25 year old Simon Rattle conduct Ida Haendel for a performance of the concerto at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls

Yehudi Menuhin, 1969

23 years later we returned to the Royal Albert Hall (in our rather fetching truck) to perform the Violin Concerto with the legendary Yehudi Menuhin

Kletzki, 1946

The Violin Concerto was also the first Brahms composition we performed in concert, again in 1946, with Emil Telmányi and Paul Kletzki at the Royal Albert Hall

Neveu, 1946

In 1946 we performed the Brahms Violin Concerto with soloist Ginette Neveu, the first Brahms work we ever recorded! Listen to it here  

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Barbirolli, 1967

…alternatively, why not explore this historic Philharmonia recording with Daniel Barenboim and Sir John Barbirolli from 1967? 

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Grimaud/Nelsons CD

Download Hélène Grimaud and Andris Nelsons recordings of the Brahms Piano Concertos, ahead of Thursday's performance of No. 2.  

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Muti, 1980

…and then again in the summer of that year at the Edinburgh International Festival, conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti

Gilels, 1980

In 1980 the great Emil Gilels performed the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lorin Maazel at the Royal Festival Hall… 

Stokowski, 1974

A decade earlier in 1974, the then 94 year old conductor Leopold Stokowski conducted Brahms Symphony No. 4 with us at the Royal Albert Hall, in what would be his final UK concert, before recording the work for RCA Records. 

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Children's Concert, 1984

In the spring of 1984, we performed the 2nd movement of the Fourth Symphony at a Children’s Concert presented by the BBC. 

Abbado, 1968

In 1968 we recorded this stunning version of Brahms Rinaldo with the great Claudio Abbado, who sadly passed yesterday aged 80.

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Giulini, 1984

…and Carlo Maria Giulini, who performed the symphony alongside Brahm’s Symphony No. 2.

Sanderling, 1984

30 years later we performed the Fourth Symphony with Kurt Sanderling in June 1984...

Klemperer, 1954

That same year acclaimed pianist Geza Anda joined Otto Klemperer and the Orchestra for a performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at London’s Royal Festival Hall. 

Quick Poll Results

We asked 'what are your favourite moments in Brahms?' to our Facebook followers. These were the results.

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Lucerne Festival, 1954

In 1954 we performed Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 with Rafel Kubelik at the Lucerne Festival, alongside the composer’s Violin Concerto.

Brahms is back!

We restart our Andris Nelsons Brahms Cycle on 23 January with a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 4. Find out more about the programme and the other concert’s in the series here 

Sanderling, 1994

14 years earlier the Piano Concerto No. 1 opened a Kurt Sanderling Brahms Series, a cycle that saw a host of great names perform alongside the legendary Maestro 

Dudamel, 2008

November saw Gustavo Dudamel return to perform with us at the Royal Festival Hall! When he made his full RFH/Philharmonia debut back in 2008, he opened with a performance of Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, played by Piotr Anderszewski.

Sao Paulo, 1998

...a country we revisited with Paavo Järvi in 1998, performing Brahms Symphony No. 1 in Sao Paulo

Rio International Music Festival, 1963

The England Football Team may be on its way to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, but before England’s only World Cup success it was we who were boarding a flight to Rio and the 1963 Rio International Music Festival, where we performed Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 with Sir John Barbirolli and Claudio Arrau.

In the Footsteps of the Music Makers, 1934

Follow in the footsteps of Brahms in this excellent short film from the British Pathé archives (1934) 

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Toscanini, 1952

..and while you’re listening, why not flick through a digital version of the official programme which was sold at those very concerts back in 1952

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Toscanini, 1952

If historic recordings are your thing, make sure you listen all 3 of the fantastic Arturo Toscanini recordings available for free online

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Brahms Boxset

How best to fill the void between now and our next Brahms Cycle concert? How about our Brahms Four Symphonies boxset, conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi?!

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Quote

'Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind' - Johannes Brahms

The Times (5*), 10 Oct

A great 5* review here from The Times (available to subscribers only we're afraid...)

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Toscanini, 1952

...60 years ago, we’d have hoped ads like this would have grabbed your attention

Brahms Cycle, Jan 2014

Our Brahms series now takes a brief hiatus, returning in January with the Piano Concerto No. 2, Symphony No. 4 and (all-being well) Andris Nelsons! For more information on the concerts visit the series webpage here… 

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10 Oct (London) - Review

A nice review here from Bachtrack on our 10 Oct concert in London

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Your Comments

Some great feedback here from our Twitter feed on last night's concert!

Toscanini, 1952

Or maybe it’s a re-run of the 1952 Arturo Toscanini radio broadcast, where we performed the Third Symphony alongside the Haydn Variations (as we do on Sunday), and which you can listen to here 

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Klemperer, 1957

...Basil Fawlty’s favourite, Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 – could he be listening to this classic Klemperer recording?

Brahms's Third Racket

And following that...

Bychkov, 1996

...a work we last performed in Bedford back in 1996 with Semyon Bychkov, Christopher Warren-Green and Andrew Shulman

13 October 2013

The next concert in our Brahms Cycle sees Tanja and Christian Tetzlaff perform Brahms's Double Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall

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Your Comments

Here are just a few of your Twitter comments on the opening concert of our RFH Brahms Cycle

Klemperer, 1956

…a symphony we famously recorded with Otto Klemperer a decade earlier (1956)

Munch, 1965

In 1965, Charles Munch conducted us for Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 alongside works by Handel, Elgar and Ravel, touring the programme to Vienna, Milan and London

Lill, 1963

50 years ago, in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Alice Countess of Athlone, we performed the First Piano Concerto with John Lill at the RFH, as part of a Gala Concert for the Victoria League For Commonwealth Friendship

Quote

'When it comes to the D minor piano concerto, I have always felt, since the first time I heard it, that I couldn’t live without that piece' - Hélène Grimaud

Oistrakh/Fournier/Galliera, 1956

…and sounded like this!

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Oistrakh/Fournier/Galliera, 1956

…a recording that, when it hit the shelves, looked like this…

Brahms's Double Concerto

On Sunday we’ll be joined by Tanja and Christian Tetzlaff for a performance of Brahms’s Double Concerto. After first performing the work with Sir Malcom Sargent in 1951, and then again with Rudolf Schwarz in 1952, we recorded the concerto with soloists David Oistrakh and Pierre Fournier in 1956, conducted by Alceo Galliera - here’s a great pic from that very recording session!

Quote

'The idea comes to me from outside of me - and is like a gift. I then take the idea and make it my own - that is where the skill lies' - Johannes Brahms

Orchestra Members on Brahms's Symphonies

Prepare for the start of our RFH Brahms Cycle with this video from 2008, featuring Philharmonia Orchestra members discussing Brahms’s Symphonies 

Pope, 1959

In December 1959 we performed Symphony No. 1 under the leadership of Stanley Pope at the Royal Festival Hall. Here's what a shilling could of got you back then on the Southbank... 

Arrau/Cameron, 1947

One of our earliest recordings was Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Claudio Arrau and Basil Cameron in 1947. Listen to the recording now on Spotify!

 

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Edinburgh International Festival, 1953

In 1953 we performed Brahms's Symphony No. 1 at the Edinburgh International Festival. Get a sense of what 50s festival life was like in this great video from British Pathe.

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Barbirolli, 1967

24 years earlier Barenboim recorded a celebrated version of the First Piano Concerto with us, under the baton of Sir John Barbirolli

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Giulini, 1991

…and in 1991 with Carlo Maria Giulini and Daniel Barenboim

Maazel, 1980

This Thursday we perform Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Symphony No. 1 at the Royal Festival Hall, a programme we presented there in 1980 with Lorin Maazel and Rudolf Firkusny

4 Oct (Oxford) - Review

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4 Oct (Oxford) - Review

And the reviews are in for the first the concert of our series…

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Quote

There is no real creating without hard work’ – Johannes Brahms

Bruno Leonardo Gelber, 1966

In November 1966 we performed both Piano Concertos with Bruno Leonardo Gelber, under the baton of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos

Grimaud on Brahms

In this great video from Deutsche Grammophon Hélène Grimaud discusses the emotions she feels playing Brahms’s concertos

Grimaud/Nelsons CD

Prepare for Hélène’s performances with us by buying her and Andris’s new recording of Brahm’s Piano Concertos (released through Deutsche Grammophon)

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10 October

Our 2013/14 RFH Brahms series starts next week (10 Oct), including  Symphony No. 1 and Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by Hélène Grimaud

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Klemperer, 1960

In February 1960 Otto Klemperer led a Philharmonia-Brahms Festival which opened with Symphony No. 1 at the Royal Festival Hall. Browse the series programme here.

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Quote

A symphony is no joke - Johannes Brahms

Cantelli, 1953

…and the following year Guido Cantelli conducted the symphony with us for EMI

Toscanini, 1952

After first performing the work with Wilhelm Furtwängler in 1951, we toured the 1st Symphony throughout 1952 with Stanley Pope, Herbert von Karajan and Arturo Toscanini, whose performance was relayed live on the BBC! Listen to that recording here.

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Nelsons conducts in Oxford

Friday 4 Oct 2013, 7.30pm
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

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Andris Nelsons

Nelsons brings fresh perspectives to all music he tackles — Opera Magazine

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Guide to Brahms

...alternatively watch Classic FM’s Fast and Friendly Guide! 

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.

Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms's popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs".

Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the "purity" of these venerable "German" structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

Source: Wikipedia

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Visit the series page to find out more on the concerts we'll be performing across the UK

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Welcome to our Brahms Cycle blog!

Throughout the series we’ll be posting materials that will draw light on the man and his music, as well as highlighting the Philharmonia’s long-standing association with the works of Brahms. Make sure you visit us regularly as we delve into our archives and provide the perfect accompaniment to this exciting series.