Brahms composed a whole series of chamber music works, including his Second Violin Sonata in A major, during a summer visit to Thun in Switzerland in 1886. This wonderfully lyrical work is one of his most cheerful creations; his biographer Max Kalbeck once cryptically called it a “sonata of love and song”. The second subject of the first movement quotes the principal motif of Brahms’s own song “Wie Melodien zieht es mir”, and the other movements are similarly characterised by a melodious intimacy. The close structural cohesion of the sonata was immediately acknowledged by the music critic Eduard Hanslick, who noted that “The three movements form a pure triad of uniformly soothing moods”.
The musical text of this revised Urtext edition is based on the recently-published volume within the New Brahms Complete Edition, which guarantees the highest degree of scholarly precision. Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen, masters of their respective instruments, provide helpful fingerings.
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During his summer holiday in Thun in 1886, seven years after the publication of the Violin Sonata no. 1 op. 78, Johannes Brahms (1833 – 97) turned his attention to two new works in this genre. His pocket diary for the month of August contains the entry “Violin sonatas d minor, A major” (Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, shelfmark Ia 79559), which is the earliest reference to the … more
About the composer
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.
|1833||Born 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.|
|1853||Concert 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.|
|1854–57||Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15.|
|1857–59||Choir director, pianist, and teacher at the royal court in Detmold.|
|1859–61||Director of the Hamburg Women’s Choir.|
|1860||Manifesto against the New Germans around Liszt.|
|1863||Cantata “Rinaldo,” Op. 50.|
|1863–64||Director of the Wiener Singakademie.|
|1868||Partial performance in Vienna of “A German Requiem,” Op. 45 (the complete work premiered in Leipzig in 1869)|
|1871–74||Artistic director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) in Vienna.|
|1873||Haydn Variations, Op. 56a, for orchestra.|
|from 1877||His 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 1878||Travels in Italy.|
|1878||Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, for Joseph Joachim.|
|1881||Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83, with a scherzo movement.|
|1886||Honorary president of Vienna’s Tonkünstlerverein (Association of Musicians).|
|1897||Four Serious Songs, Op. 121. Dies in Vienna on April 3.|