With around 250 items, including more than 500 digitized pages accessible via the internet, the program collection of the institute provides a representative overview of important premieres and first performances of Brahms works and their reception after the death of the artist in April 1897.
Spanning a time frame of almost 90 years, from January 1859 and May 1947, the programs provide information about Brahms’ work as a pianist and conductor, the participation of contemporary musicians in performances of his works and the customs and transformations of historical program design.
A concert program can serve as an important source of musical history; this can be seen exemplarily in the program for the premiere of Brahms’ First Symphony on November 4, 1876 in Karlsruhe: “It is hardly by accident that Dessoff placed a work by Beethoven at the start: the second Leonore overture op. 72, whose key of C major makes a direct bridge to the final movement of Brahms’ First Symphony. Beethoven was the great model, Brahms wanted to follow in his steps with his first symphony [...] Overture and symphony as cornerstones recall the program design of modern symphony concerts.
Between them, a mix of musical genres in various styles, typical of the time: first an opera aria by Weber, satisfying the sentiments, the first Cavatina of the protagonist from Euryanthe, followed by the entertaining F major serenade by Robert Volkmann, which gave the listener time to relax, before the lyrical interiority of the block of Lieder with Brahms and Schubert songs demanded renewed concentration and prepared for the crowning conclusion, the new work of the evening awaited with long expectation: Brahms' First Symphony” (Stefan Weymar,Johannes Brahms – Zeichen, Bilder, Phantasien, 20).