Brahms Academic Festival Overture Program Notes
Coming from a fairly lower class, working musician family in the less-trendy side of Hamburg, the young pianist Johannes Brahms was unlikely to attend University. However, his duo-partner, the violinist Joseph Joachim, invited Brahms into University life, over a couple of summer months in Göttingen, while Joachim and his friends took Philosophy and History classes. (It was to Joachim that he would later dedicate his monumental violin concerto.) Brahms acquainted himself with beer halls, coffeehouse debates, and student drinking songs.
Later, an established composer, the University of Breslau awarded Brahms an honorary doctorate. Unfamiliar with the traditions of the Academy, Brahms sent a thank-you postcard. Actually, the university expected Brahms to compose a new piece of music, and conduct it at the conferral. Perhaps to their surprise, Brahms wrote an inventive medley with those popular student songs he’d heard in his summer back in Göttingen!
Born: May 7, 1833, Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 3, 1897, Vienna, Austria