World Music Exploration - Rhapsody in g minor by Brahms

This week's selection is one of my personal faves, ever since I brother learned it many moons ago.


Johannes Brahms lived from 1833 - 1897. Like all the other selections this month, Brahms hailed from Germany. He wrote works for piano, orchestra, singers and several small chamber ensembles. I've heard many times that a certain level of emotional maturity is needed to play his works well. Having played and heard several of his works, I tend to agree.


This is Brahms' Rhapsody in g minor, op. 79 no. 2. It's in ABA (ternary) form as many works from the Romantic period are. It's stormy and full of angst. As some of my students have sensed, there's an element of melancholy as well.


The pianist is Martha Argerich from Argentina. She won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965This reclusive musician is hailed as one of the greatest pianists of our time.


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“Romantic Music” Musings

I bet you thought I was going to muse about sappy love songs. Nope. Not here. The Romantic Period (circa 1825 – 1900) saw an increase in nationalism and exoticism in the arts, as well as the themes of unrestrained passion, unrequited love, redemption and flights of fancy.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to and playing Romantic music. It is so easy to get caught up in the swelling melody that gathers speed and volume until it reaches its climax. I love the strurm und drang and rubato, which exemplify turbulent emotions. After the storm, there’s always a moment (or several), in which we are teased. We think we’re at the end of the song, but the composer sends us off into another direction. Then, there’s the penultimate chord. Musicians are taught to push to it and then savour the dissonance. Make the audience crave the resolution.

Frederic Chopin captured the nationalistic flair of his native Poland along with tender and searing melodies. Franz Lizst gave us fiery and brilliant passages that amazed audiences. Johannes Brahms showed us the angst-ridden and frustrated side of romance. You can learn about the music of these Romantic composers and many more at these sites:


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