The paper "Analysis of Johannes Brahms’ s Violin Sonata No 1" is a perfect example of music coursework. Johannes Brahms was a renowned German pianist and composer. He was born on the 7th of May 1833 in Hamburg, Germany as a second born to the double bassist, Johann Jakob Brahms and his wife, Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen. His father was affiliated with the Hamburg Philharmonic Society, and he is the one that introduced young Brahms to playing the piano at the young age of seven. His musical prowess heightened and by the time he reached teenage years, he was a highly accomplished musician.
Brahms widely wrote chamber music, symphonies, concerti, choral compositions, and piano works. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest composers of the nineteenth century and more specifically, a master of the sonata and symphonic style. One of his most famous sonatas is his three-movement Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78 which he composed in the summers of 1878 and 1879 in Portschach am worthersee. Its first performance is recorded to have taken place on the 8th of November 1879 in Bonn.
It was performed by a husband and wife, Robert Heckmann who played the violin and Marie Heckmann who played the piano respectively. Violin Sonata No. 1 is made up of three distinct movements which share a motivic idea that is common in other pieces of the composer’ s work (Trafford and White 1). This paper is a discussion on Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 1 in regards to the structure and historical perspective that are associated with the piece as well as its composer. From a historical perspective, Brahms can be perceived as a primary protagonist of the classical tradition of Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, as well as Mozart.
According to Edmund Trafford and Kathryn White, this renowned composer substantially accepted the Classical tradition without questions. He also contributed to the Romantic music by infusing the romantic devices with all of the standard forms of his composition. This he did in a manner that stretched the formal limits of Classical practice while at the same time remaining generally loyal to the original modes. Therefore, the structure of Brahms music and compositions such as the Violin Sonata No. 1 was structured based on a number of technical and formal principles instead of along dramatic or literary lines (Trafford and White 1).
Heather Platt on the other hand, maintains that although Brahms had a reputation of being one of the most iconic representatives of absolute music, he often associated various works of literature with some of his instrumental works. However, the scholar does not directly indicate whether this case applies particularly to Violin Sonata No. 1 but points out that the composer had earlier on confessed that the piece had a hidden meaning.
Unfortunately, the meaning was not shared with the public and is largely left to the interpretation of the audience. Due to the implied hidden meaning, the audience is inclined to believe that there is a connection between some literature of that era and the composed piece, Violin Sonata No. 1. (Parmer and Grimes 132; Platt 391). A deeper analysis discussed in a later part of this paper in regards to the piece’ s composition time helps to unravel the possible hidden meaning.
Upon completion of the Violin Sonata No. 1, it was accorded the Opus number 78, and that is why the piece is referred to as Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78. It is important to note that Opus Number is a term used in the musical composition, and it means the same as the work number that a composer assigns to his or her single composition or set of compositions. The Op. number indicates the chronological order of production of the composer. Therefore, this automatically implies that chronologically, Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major was the 78th piece to have been produced by Johannes Brahms in his musical career (Johannebrahms. org Np).
However, the audience may not be in a position to make this conclusion with utmost precision because studies on the person and early works of Johannes Brahms indicate that he destroyed many complete and incomplete works during his musical career. According to notes by Edmund Trafford and Kathryn White, Brahms had a keen historical perspective that made him judge his own achievements against those of Beethoven. In other words, the composer consistently worked under the shadow of Beethoven and this, in turn, turned him into a composer characterized by severe self-criticism.
Trafford and White continue to note that as a result of the above trait, Brahms destroyed numerous complete works as well as other unpublished and unfinished compositions (Trafford and White 1).
Johannesbrahms.org,. "Brahms Biography". Johannesbrahms.org. N.p., 2013. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
Parmer, Dillon R. and Nicole Grimes. "“‘Come Rise To Higher Spheres!’: Tradition Transcended In Brahms Violin Sonata No.1 In G Major, Op 78,” Ad Parnassum". A Journal of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth – Century Instrumental Music 6.11 (2009): 129-152. Print.
Platt, Heather. Johannes Brahms. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2012. Print.
Trafford, Edmund and Kathryn White. Johannes Brahms: Notes. 1st ed. 2016. Print.