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Johannes Brahms –
The Magic of Relationships

The Brahms-Institut an der Musikhochschule Lübeck presents, from 30 April 2021 onward, its first digital exhibition »Johannes Brahms – The Magic of Relationships«. Johannes Brahms’ multi-faceted relationships to friends, colleagues and not least the women he admired are in the focus of this exhibition. Certain of the valuable exhibits from the Institute’s collection will come alive in the exhibition: the online users will be able to turn the pages of Brahms’ address book, to discover messages on the back of photographies or to listen to music accompanying the scores on display.

Around 60 valuable music manuscripts, dedicated works, letters, and photographs from the Lübeck Brahms collection trace the composer’s complex relations: »The ensemble of exhibits reveals to the visitor a dynamic view of Brahms that takes on surprising new outlines when seen in the context of his social network«, according to Institute director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger.

The visitors meet friends and benefactors who were important throughout the composer’s life: Theodor Avé-Lallemant, the musician-couple Schumann or Hans von Bülow. The »magic of relationships« also unfolds when examining the pictures of women which the eternal bachelor Brahms kept in his photographic collection. Furthermore, the exhibition focusses on compositions dedicated to Brahms by his closest friends (Joseph Joachim, Clara Schumann) and revering colleagues (Johann Strauss, Hans Huber, Carl Reinthaler, etc.), works which mirror Brahms: often, the dedicated works refer to Brahms’s preferred genres or to certain popular compositions, such as his Ungarische Tänze WoO 1 or Walzer op. 39.

Key graphic works inspired by Brahms’s compositions, such as the symbolist painter, graphic designer and sculptor Max Klinger’s Brahms-Phantasie, are also included in the digital exhibition, as well as the various Brahms busts presented in the Gründerzeit winter garden of the Villa Brahms. They show the ways in which the composer was perceived by the visual artists: from the naturalistic portraits of Tilgner and Küchler, created during Brahms’ lifetime, to the portrait bust by Ilse Conrat, conceived for her Viennese Brahms tomb, to the idiosyncratic solutions of Arno Breker and Milan Knobloch created in the late twentieth century.

Starting on 30 April 2021, coinciding with the start of this year’s Brahms Festival at MHL, the exhibition »The Magic of Relationships« will be presented online on the website This is a further important step in its strategy of digitisation already pursued since 2003. With its first digital exhibition, the Brahms-Institut, despite the current pandemic and the restorations taking place until summer 2021, offers a possibility to meet Brahms in his network of relationships in a new fashion: zooming, turning the pages of autograph manuscripts, looking at the back of photographies, listening to music when studying historical scores – what is not possible with exhibits ›behind glass‹ becomes a sensual experience in the digital exhibition »The Magic of Relationships«.

Johannes Brahms –
The Magic of Relationships

Opening Times:
From 30. April 2021 online:

Initial Opening:

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger,
Stefan Weymar

Der Katalog ist erhältlich bei: