Classical Music

Music In The Making: From Schumann To Brahms

Featuring two beautiful works by these famous composers.


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On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, we’re listening to the works of two great composers, friends and mentors from the nineteenth century!

A photograph of Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms
A photograph of Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms

Robert Schumann – Arabesque
Nancy Weems, piano
Moores Opera House

For our first selection tonight, perhaps it would be best if we first define the term “arabesque.” As some of you may know, an arabesque can be a complex pattern of intertwining lines, famously found in architecture, like ceilings or facades, or perhaps even in intricate carpet design. This pattern also has historical meaning in various Middle Eastern and Arabic cultures. When it comes to an arabesque in music, some of the same ideas apply! In a musical arabesque, various flowing lines replicate the detailed and intricate patterns that are popular in visual arabesque designs.

Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 in E minor
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Larry Rachleff, conductor
Stude Concert Hall

While every movement of our next selection can be analyzed, for now we’ll just take a look at the final movement of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. This movement is especially notable because it is one of the few examples of a symphonic passacaglia, which means that a main subject is passed through various voices during a piece. This differs from a chaconne, that only has a repeating bass line. However, for this movement’s passacaglia theme, Brahms borrows a theme from Bach’s cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich. Try to see if you can identify it!

This episode originally aired Sunday, May 8th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.