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Fixstern Beethoven

Brahms und Beethoven

Brahms-Institut at Musikhochschule Lübeck shows a special exhibition on Beethoven and Brahms in the spring of 2013. The show at Villa Brahms presents important items from the institute’s collection to accompany the Brahms-Festival.

Johannes Brahms also had to allow himself to be measured according to Beethoven’s music, if he wanted to be taken seriously as a composer of symphonies, chamber music, or piano sonatas. The view of his Vienna music room shows that he had a bust of the honored model breathing down his neck when he sat at the piano composing. And so the great Viennese classicist was not just an inspiration for Brahms, but also a limiting burden.

The sources shown in the exhibition include an autograph Beethoven letter, Brahms’ copy of the score of the Eighth Symphony, Hans von Bülow’s »musical creed«, as well as programs and photographs. Initially the show directs attention at Brahms’ First Symphony, which the composer had great difficulties composing. Under the burdensome example of Beethoven, the work became a matter of »life or death«. The conductor Hans von Bülow was so excited about the »First« that he exaggeratedly called it »Beethoven’s Tenth«. Brahms repeatedly performed as a Beethoven conductor. Programs document his work as a pianist and conductor performing the work of the honored master.

It is not least thanks to the efforts of Liszt and Schumann that the first Beethoven monument could be dedicated: in 1845 to mark the composer’s 75th birthday. Ernst Hähnel’s Bonn monument is juxtaposed to Schumann’s musical »monument« for Beethoven: Fantasie op. 17 – which Brahms performed at his first Vienna concert as a pianist in November 1862.

The exhibition also gives an overview of Beethoven portraits in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From the first portrait bust by Franz Klein (1812), showing the composer at age 42, through the Vienna monument by Kaspar Zumbusch (1880) to Max Klinger’s spectacular »Beethoven« that celebrates the composer as an artist-genius.

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