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Piano Quintet f minor op. 34

PREFACE

The Piano Quintet in F minor op. 34 is one of Johannes Brahms’s most substantial and best-known pieces of chamber music. By the time it appeared in print, around the end of 1865 or the beginning of 1866, it already had a long history and two previous stages behind it. In August 1862, the twenty-nine-year-old composer had, shortly before his first trip to Vienna, completed ... more

CRITICAL COMMENTARY

About the Composer

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Johannes Brahms

His significant output comprises chamber music, piano works, numerous choral compositions and songs (including settings of folk-song lyrics), as well as large-scale orchestral works in the 1870s and 1880s. His compositions are characterized by the process of developing variation. He is considered an antithesis to the New German School around Liszt, and an advocate of “absolute” music.

1833Born in Hamburg on May 7, the son of a musician. His first piano instruction with Willibald Cossel at age seven, then with Eduard Marxen; first public performances from 1843.
1853Concert tour through German cities; he meets Schumann, who announces him as the next great composer in his essay “Neue Bahnen” (“New Paths”). A lifelong, intimate friendship develops with Clara Schumann.
1854–57Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15.
1857–59Choir director, pianist, and teacher at the royal court in Detmold.
1859–61Director of the Hamburg Women’s Choir.
1860Manifesto against the New Germans around Liszt.
1863Cantata “Rinaldo,” Op. 50.
1863–64Director of the Wiener Singakademie.
1868Partial performance in Vienna of “A German Requiem,” Op. 45 (the complete work premiered in Leipzig in 1869)
1871–74Artistic director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) in Vienna.
1873Haydn Variations, Op. 56a, for orchestra.
from 1877His symphonic output begins with the Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (begun 1862); composition of the Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73; the Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1883); and Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (1884–85): cantabile themes, chamber-music-like style.
from 1878Travels in Italy.
1878Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, for Joseph Joachim.
1881Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83, with a scherzo movement.
1886Honorary president of Vienna’s Tonkünstlerverein (Association of Musicians).
1897Four Serious Songs, Op. 121. Dies in Vienna on April 3.

© 2003, 2010 Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart

About the Authors

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Michael Struck (Editor)

Dr. Michael Struck, born in 1952 in Hannover, studied school music, private music teaching, piano (diploma, class of Werner Schröter), musicology (Constantin Floros) and pedagogy at the music conservatory in Hamburg and at Hamburg University. In 1984 he completed his doctorate with a thesis on Schumann’s controversial late instrumental works.

He is a research associate at the research centre the new “Johannes Brahms Complete Edition” at Kiel University (member of the editorial board), as well as editor and supervisor of numerous volumes. He is the author of many musicological publications on music of the 18th to 20th centuries and other work editions. Struck is also a music critic. As a pianist he has given concerts with the vocal ensemble of Kiel University as well as with the Wiesbaden Chamber Choir and has given concert lectures (in 1989, 1997, 2001, 2005 as part of the matinees on “Raritäten der Klaviermusik” in Husum). In 2009 he was awarded the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau, in 2010 as a scholar at the Brahms Research Centre at the Musikwissenschaftliches Institut of Kiel University he was a co-prizewinner of the Brahms Prize 2010, conferred by the Brahms-Gesellschaft Schleswig-Holstein.

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Hans-Martin Theopold (Fingering)

Prof. Hans-Martin Theopold, was born to a pastor’s family in Detmold on 22 April 1904, the youngest of five children. Even as a child he often played the organ in the “Marktkirche” and soon began to take piano lessons with Theodor Vehmeier. At the age of 17 he made his debut at the Landestheater in Detmold with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C major under Friedrich Quast (Herford). Following the successful completion of his schooling at the Gymnasium Leopoldinum in Detmold, he went on to study music and piano (main subject): from 1922–23 at the “Württembergische Hochschule für Musik” in Stuttgart (with Max Pauer, 1866–1945) and then from 1923–1928 at the “Staatliche Akademische Hochschule für Musik” in Berlin-Charlottenburg (with Richard Rössler, 1880–1962, and Waldemar Lütschg, 1877–1948). After completing his piano studies (graduating with “very good”) in 1928, he began an active solo career both at home and abroad (USA, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, the Balkans). As a member of the Chamber Music Association of the State Opera in Berlin (from 1933) he also gave countless chamber music concerts, including ones with his violin partner Gustav Havemann (1882–1960).

In the 1930s, audiences and the press alike raved about Theopold’s extraordinary gifts as a pianist: “This young player has it in him to soon become one of the best players in Germany. A superior technique, a wonderful singing piano tone, the strength of a Titan, but not at all hard due to the incomparably gentle elasticity of his touch” [Münchener Zeitung, 21 November 1933]. – “H.M. Theopold gave convincing proof of his splendid pianistic ability in an extremely gripping sonata with a modern idiom by Alban Berg, but predominantly in Schubert’s […] Wanderer Fantasy, which he played with a polished technique and creative power” [Weser-Zeitung, 21 December 1932]. Theopold was awarded several prizes, including the “Grotrian-Steinweg-Preis” in 1928.

In 1937 Theopold became a teacher for the piano (main subject) at the “Bayerisches Staatskonservatorium der Musik” in Würzburg. In 1939 he married Irene Tatjana Wülfing, who was from Moscow. From 1943 he became head of the piano master-class at the “Nordische Musikschule” in Bremen, although this was interrupted by the events of the war. Following his return from a prisoner of war camp, Theopold gave concerts and taught although he did not hold a permanent position. From 1955–1956 he was acting head of the piano master-class at the “Bergisches Landeskonservatorium” in Wuppertal, finally being appointed Professor for Piano on 1 April 1956 at the “Staatliches Institut für Schul- und Volksmusik” in Detmold, later at the “Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie Detmold” (today “Hochschule für Musik Detmold”), where he taught for decades. On 30 September 1969 he retired. “His students extol his pedagogical gifts. […] Humour, charm, helpfulness and kind-heartedness moderate the strictness of his professional ethos as a musician and teacher” (Lippische Rundschau, 23 April 1969; see also: Lippische Landeszeitung 22 April 1969 on the occasion of Theopold’s 65. birthday: “Prof. Theopold, a modest but at the same time energetic man, is an enthusiastic teacher”). Theopold died in Detmold in 2000.

Contact with Günter Henle was established directly after the publishing house was founded, when Theopold thanked the publishers with great enthusiasm for its first Urtext editions. His extensive correspondence with the publishing house was bequeathed to the Lippische Landesbibliothek in 2014 to ensure its long-term accessibility to the public. The letters testify not only to Theopold’s great interest in musical sources and text questions but also to his initial strict refusal (!) of fingerings in text-critical editions such as these: “For fingerings are and remain something individual no matter what their quality” (letter to Günter Henle from 26 May 1949 {publishing house archives}). Günter Henle was not, however, to be swayed and stressed the necessity of fingerings in his Urtext editions: “It is better to publish the Urtext […] with fingerings that are not necessary for a few individuals, or that might even, I admit, be considered irritating here and there” (letter to Hans-Martin Theopold of 17 September 1953).

It was only in 1955 that Theopold accepted Günter Henle’s offer of contributing fingerings for an Urtext edition that was in the process of being prepared by way of trial. (HN 74, Schubert, Complete Dances for Piano, Volume 1). Following this, Theopold was commissioned to write the fingerings for nearly all of the publishing house’s new editions in quick succession. Günter Henle, himself a good pianist, greatly valued Theopold’s fingerings, and also the many suggestions regarding the musical text in question. In addition, Theopold was always very reliable, thorough and conscientious – something that is not unimportant with editorial work!

Thus to date Hans-Martin Theopold has provided the fingerings for the greatest number of Henle Urtext editions by far – 226 editions (!) in total.

We would like to thank Mrs Margot Theopold and the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold for their great support in providing biographical material.

G. Henle Verlag

This edition of Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor op. 34 is a typical example of a careful modern “Urtext” edtion in which all the available sources have been analysed and their significance in the process of composition determined. Careful detective work has shed light on the composer’s involvement in the correction of proofs, and a number of unwarranted additions and alterations that occurred in early twentieth-century editions have been rectified.

Nineteenth-Century, 2006

This Henle edition replaces the previous Urtext edition issued in 1971. It contains a preface with historical background notes as well as a detailed description and evaluation of the manuscript sources and early printings. In the Critical Comments readers will also find an exhaustive account of Brahms’ own many changes in the compositional process.

Stringendo, 2003

Henle heeft een zeer overzichtelijke en opnieuw gereviseerde Urtext-uitgave verzorgd: de afzonderlijke partijen zijn ruimtelijk goed ingedeeld en de pianist kann de vier strijkers makkelijk volgen vanuit zijn eigen pianopartituur. Een uitdaging voor iedere liefhebber van kamermuziek en voor de liefhebbers van Brahms in het bijzonder.

Pianowereld, 2002

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