Brahms

Brahms

Brahms

Brahms

Excerpt

The first book on Brahms in the 'Master Musicians' series was written by Lawrence Erb, and appeared in 1905. It went through two reprints, and then, in 1934, came a revised edition with a prefatory note wherein the editor of the series pays a tribute to the careful accuracy of Mr. Erb's work. With that tribute I should like to associate myself. But since 1905 two things have happened against which no author could guard himself: first, our view of the composer and his music has been amplified and sometimes modified as new sources of information became available; secondly, Brahms himself has receded in historical perspective. Mr. Erb wrote only eight years after the death of his subject. Now the eight has become fifty-one--fifty-one of the most eventful years through which the art of music has ever passed. Inevitably the point of view has changed, and the 'Master Musicians' series needs a new volume that reflects that change. This, I imagine, is why the editor has asked me to write one.

I have not, however, interpreted my instructions as a demand for novelty at all costs. Indeed the well-informed reader will find in my pages little that is really new and nothing, I think, that is sensational. But I have tried to see straight--and with the eyes of 1948. I shall be told, of course, that no one can really see straight, no one can avoid having a point of view, even prejudices, that are his own and unique. That is quite true, and it reminds me that I have a confession to make. In reading and thinking about Brahms (the man, not the music) I have developed, rather to my own surprise, a genuine affection for my queer crotchety subject. I am sure it has influenced my judgment, but I cannot be persuaded to regret it.

Every one knows that writing a book is a good way to make enemies. I have also found it a good way to make friends. But for Brahms I might never have been led to Gunfield, and missed those pleasant Oxford afternoons when Miss Margaret Deneke put her memories of Brahms's friends at my disposal and showed me her treasures. These include the pencil drawing at the beginning of this volume. It is copied from a work by the . . .

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