Brahms – Sonatas For Piano And Violin, Opus 78 – 100 – 108

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Sonatas For Piano And Violin:

Sonata in G Major, Opus 78

Sonata in A Major, Opus 100

Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108

Scherzo in C Minor, WoO posthum 2 (1853)

Performed by:

Yefim Bronfman (Piano)

Isaac Stern (Violin)

Recorded live at the Great Hall at the Bolshoi Philharmonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, December 18 & 19, 1991.


Yeah, man, you know, are you really going to find anything better than this? (I know… anything is possible but it will be a long search.)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES – 1993 – Ekkehart Kroher (Translation Diana Loos):

“I am staying in Kamten again, at Portschach am See (railway-station Maria-Worth). It would be really lovely if you could direct your steps this time to my direction; our nest here is only a friendly stop on the way, but from here you can take the most delightful trips, to the Ampezzo valley, Grossglockner, Fusch, etc.”

These words, written by Johannes Brahms in June 1879 to his friend Adolf Schubring, a writer on musical subjects, were typical of the composer in a double sense. On the one hand, he loved the presence or the company of familiar friends even during his summer vacation, and on the other, he always chose places of particular natural beauty for his holidays.

Brahms loved the countryside and being surrounded by nature which acted as a stimulus for him and where he could “go for walks” with his musical ideas, as he called it. Therefore it is not surprising that in the summer months the majority of his loveliest Lieder and instrumental compositions were written.

As early as 1877, when he was in Portschach for the first time, he had written to his friend the Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick: ‘Lake Worth is virgin country, the air is so full of melodies that one must be careful not to step on one…’

The same applies to the summers following, in which not only Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major was written (1878), but also the First Violin Sontata in G Major, Opus 78, which was finished in the summer of 1879, also in Portschach. Whether this G Major Sonata was really Brahms’ first violin sonata can, however,  no longer be exactly established. Much evidence seems to indicate that it had at least three predecessors, but these, like other early compositions of Brahms, fell victim to the relentless self-criticism of his genius.

With the Violin Sonata in G Major, however, Brahms realized a novel concept of sonata form. It is not so much the integration of variations into the principles of dialectic form which is meant by this – Arnold Schoenberg was to be the first to recognize the forward-looking tendency of this integration – but rather the conceptual unity of the three movements based on a dotted rhythm motif.

The dotted rhythm appears at the beginnings of the opening Vivace ma non troppo and the Allegro molto moderato Finale which quotes the theme of the ‘Regenlied’ Opus 59, No.3 (based on a poem by Klaus Groth); the dotted rhythm also characterizes the Adagio middle section thereby establishing a connection between movements.

Thus the Finale unfolds almost by itself, for the quotation from ‘Regenlied’ which was set to music in 1873 (‘Surge, rain, surge down, awake once more the dreams in me which I dreamed as a child…’) is in both contexts the expression of contemplative, almost nostalgic reminiscence.

But as if that were not enough, Brahms brings back the cantabile Adagio idea, slightly changed, as the second couplet in the Rondo Finale and thus enriches the final movement with a restrained warmth and a wishful tenderness which make the music ‘seem to smile through its tears,’ to quote Karl Geiringer.

Intimacy, though of quite a different kind, can also be heard in the Second Violin Sonata in A Major, Opus 100, which Brahms composed in 1886 in Hofstetten near Thun on Lake Thun. It was apparently written ‘while expecting the arrival of a dear friend,’ namely the young alto Hermine Spies, whom Brahms had heard for the first time in 1883 as the soloist in his Alto Rhapsody.

How deep his feelings were for the singer, in artistic and in human terms, is shown not only by the abundance of his Lied production in the subsequent years but also in the A Major Sonata for Piano and Violin.  In composing this sonata Brahms must have spent a lot of time deep in thought about her, whom he admired to the point of adoration, which explains the serene basic mood of the music almost without further comment being necessary.

Further comment is also hardly necessary to explain the use of several melodic phrases from the setting of Klaus Groth’s ‘Komm bald’ (Come soon) Opus 97 No. 5 in the opening Allegro amabile, into which the musician also wove the opening motif of his Lied ‘Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn’ (Like melodies running gently through my mind), Opus 105, No. 1, as second subject.

For the middle movement Brahms here combines the slow movement and scherzo into an Andante tranquillo in five sections, in which a tender opening idea alternates several times with a buoyantly contrasting Vivace. The final word in the sonata belongs to an Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) in allabreve time, a broadly pulsating Rondo finale, in which the piano adds chromatically contemplative notes to the flowing cantabile character of the movement, without, however, seriously affecting the basically relaxed mood.

The Third Violin Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108, was also written in the summer of 1886 on Lake Thun, but it was not definitively completed until 1888. This sonata was also published a year later under the title ‘Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin,’ not the other way round, but which means Brahms wished to indicate the fact that both instruments are treated on equal terms.

This was particularly important in the case of the D Minor Sonata, since it replaces the intimacy of its predecessors with a concertante approach, which would otherwise have been misunderstood. For here the piano part also lays claims to virtuosity and leads to the assumption that during the composition of the work Brahms was already thinking of his friend, the pianist and conductor Hans von Bulow, to whom he did in fact dedicate this Opus 108.

The virtuosity of its character also explains the four-movement form of the sonata, which is filled with passionate, almost dramatic impetus.  This evolves in the introductory Allegro in traditional sonata form, but with an unorthodox development section, which combines the bariolage technique of the violin with an insistent pedal point from the piano, the left hand of which plays an uninterrupted A for 46 bars.

An expressively sensitive Adagio in D Major and a strangely pallid, almost gloomy Scherzo in F Sharp Minor create a strongly contrasting pair of inner movements, which, however, in the cycle construction of the work function merely as an intermezzo.

For the Finale turns out to be not only the point towards which the work is directed, but in fact the true center of the work, the significance of which Brahms emphasized by the unusual length – 337 bars – and the choice of sonata form.

The tempestuousness of the passionato character of this Presto agitato are hardly affected by occasional episodes and indicate an inner tension which does not diminish into the very last bar.


Johannes Brahms – Sonata in G Major, Opus 78

  1. Vivace ma non troppo – 10:11
  2. Adagio – 7:20
  3. Allegro molto moderato – 8:29

Johannes Brahms – Sonata in A Major, Opus 100

  1. Allegro amabile – 7:57
  2. Andante tranquillo – Vivace – 6:25
  3. Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) – 5:33

Johannes Brahms – Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108

  1. Allegro – 7:44
  2. Adagio – 4:34
  3. Un poco presto e con sentimento – 2:47
  4. Presto agitato – 5:51

Johannes Brahms – Scherzo in C Minor, WoO posthum 2 (1853)

  1. Allegro – 5:46


Just an all-time classic recording from two all-time classic musicians interpreting the work of an all-time classic composer – live without a net!

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Brahms – Symphony No. 2 (Masur)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim SvejdaJohannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73

Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80

New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur – Conductor

Recording Location: Avery Fisher Hall, New York (1-4 February 21-24, 1992; 5 December 1992)


Brahms #2 conducted by Herr Kurt – what’s not to like?

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (by Jim Svejda, 1992):


For more than twenty years Johannes Brahms tried his hand of the symphonic genre without having to face the dreaded prospect of actually writing a Symphony.

The two Serenades Opus 11 and Opus 16, the D minor Piano Concerto No. 1 and even A German Requiem contain the materials of his innumerable aborted attempts to assume the mantle that had been placed on his head years before he was willing to wear it.

“There are asses in Vienna who take me for a second Beethoven,” he once said to his friend, the conductor Hermann Levi. “You don’t know what it means to the likes of us when we hear his footsteps behind us.”

A musical conservative who was determined to follow in the line of Haydn, Mozart, and his great idol, Brahms was unwilling to risk a direct comparison with Beethoven until he felt fully ready. He would not publish a string quartet until he was forty, and his long-rumored, eagerly awaited First Symphony would not be performed until November 4, 1876.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

With the Symphony’s agonizing gestation behind him and the work launched with considerable success – following the premiere in Karlsruhe, members of the orchestra thanked him for proving that Beethoven had not necessarily said the final word on symphonic form – Brahms would dash out the Second Symphony during the summer of the following year.

Written in Portschach, an enchanting Austrian resort village on the shores of the Worthersee, the new symphony apparently gave its composer little trouble, a fact the modest Brahms attributed to the beauty of his surroundings.

By mid-summer work was proceeding so well that he could afford to write teasing, self-mocking letters to his friends. “You have only to sit at the piano,” he instructed Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, “put your small feet on the two pedals in turn, and strike the chord of F minor several times in succession, first in the treble, then in the bass (ff and pp), and you will gradually gain a vivid impression of my “latest.”

The musical and emotional resemblance of Brahm’s Second Symphony to Beethoven’s “Pastoral” has not been lost on listeners over the years, any more than it was on the audience which heard it for the first time on December 30th, 1877 at a Vienna Philharmonic concert conducted by Hans Richter.

Brahms ardent champion, the powerful Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick could report: “Seldom has there been such a cordial public expression of pleasure in a new composition. Brahams’s Symphony No. 1 was a work for earnest connoisseurs capable of constant and microscopic pursuit of its minutely ramified excursions, the Symphony No. 2 extends its warm sunshine to connoisseurs and laymen alike.”

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

For all its outward geniality, the lengthiest of Brahms’s symphonies is a work which conceals unexpected depths of seriousness and dark introspection; and for all its apparent effortlessness, it is one of the most rigorously organized of all Brahms’s works.

For instance, almost all of the Symphony’s thematic material grows from the simple three-note figure in the cellos and basses heard at the beginning of the opening Allegro non troppo. Several preliminary transformations of this motif lead to the flowing theme in the first violins which launches the first movement proper. A secondary theme, again derived from the three-note kernel and tinged with unfulfillable longing, is heard in the cellos and violas.

The dark voices of the cellos also dominate the opening of the Adagio non troppo, one of the most sorrowful major key movements in the symphonic literature. The horn, flutes and oboes take up the cellos’ song, reshaping it into a second theme which, with the first, undergoes an expansive and luxuriant development.

In place of the traditional Scherzo, the Symphony’s third movement is a curious hybrid structure perhaps best described as an Intermezzo in Scherzo form. The delicately scored principal theme alternates with two faster episodes of exceptional grace and lightness; all are thematically related and all derive from the Symphony’s germinating three-note cell.

A reference to the same motto begins the energetic Finale. Three principal themes are presented, developed, altered and reconfigured in rapid succession. While this good-natured cascase of notes is in fact one of the most intricately worked-out of the composer’s inventions, most attempts at closer analysis are usually swept away by the blaze of D major sunlight in which the Symphony ends.


When the University of Breslau conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Johannes Brahms in March of 1879, they expected – at very least – a symphony from the grateful composer.

The composer, who had become a proficient pianist in some of the more fashionable establishments of the red-light district in Hamburg, decided to return the favor with what he called “a jolly potpourri of student songs a la Suppe.”

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

Written in 1880, the same year which saw the composition of the grimly serious Tragic Overture, his Suppe Potpourri reveals a side of Brahms’s musical personality which he rarely displayed. For apart from the Finale of the Second Symphony, a few of the songs, and the virtually unknown Triumphlied – a festive occasional work written to celebrate the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War – the Academic Festival Overture is one of that handful of pieces in which Brahms abandons his celebrated mood of “autumnal melancholy” and gives his considerable sense of humor free reign.

While the Overture most certainly is a “jolly potpourri” based on four traditional German university songs, it has little in common with Suppe’s irresistible, but feather-weight Light Cavalry or Poet and Peasant. It is a superbly fashioned and amusingly “academic” sonata-allegro movement which both impressed and befuddled the University’s Rector, Senate and Faculty when Brahms presented it to them on January 4th, 1881.

The pompous introduction, in which the surly mutterings of bearded professors might be heard, concludes with a hymn-like setting of the first of the Overture’s principal themes, “Wir hatten bebauet ein staffliches Haus,” a song whose revolutionary sentiments caused it to be banned in Germany throughout much of the 19th century.

Two dramatically contrasting themes are now introduced: the patriotic “Der Landesvater,” first heard in the second violins, and the comic Freshman hazing ditty – whose presence in the Overture scandalized its first audience – “Was kommt dort von der Hoh?” – announced by a pair of jovial bassoons.

A brief development of all the major themes leads to a magisterial coda based on the celebrated “Gaudeamus igitur,” which Brahms decks out in the most resplendent orchestral fabric he would ever employ.

Curiously enough, Brahms despised the title of the piece. For years he tried to think of something better than Academic Festival Overture, but apparently never could.


  • 1-4: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73 [39:38]
  • 5: Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80 [9:38]


Fantastic performance and recording – but really, I’m just doing time until we get to my favorite Brahms symphony – No. 3!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Triple Concerto, Classical Music, Piano Trio, Kakadu Variations, Bernard Haitink, Prince Lobkowitz, Anton Felix Schindler, Archduke Rudolph, Karl August Seiler, Anton Krafft, Moazart, Hugo Riemann, Thayer, Wenzel Mullers, The Sisters of Prague, Beaux Arts Trio, Manahem Pressler, Isidore Cohen, Bernard Greenhouse, London Philharmonic, Michael Talbot, Lothar Hoffmann-Erbrecht, Jacques Lasserre, Carlo Vitali, Bart Mulder, Christian Steiner, Ed Koenders, Estelle Kercher

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)