Homepage List An Introspective Solitary State of Mind

9. An Introspective Solitary State of Mind

The German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), being awed by his predecessor Ludwig van Beethoven, the musical giant of symphonies, completed his first symphony late until he was 43 years old, but was soon acclaimed as successful a composer of symphonies as Beethoven. The great success in his Symphony No.1 in C Minor, Op.68 turned him to a very confident composer of symphonies and he composed three more masterpieces of symphony in the rest of his life.

Among his four symphonies I love most his last symphony, Symphony No.4 in E Minor, Op.98, which was completed in 1885 when he was 52 years old. Brahms, though at that time an already fully established and widely acclaimed composer in Europe, was basically still a person of introspective character and in one case he even refused to accept the honorary doctorate presented to him by a university. Wealth and fame had never been his objectives and he chose to live a solitary way of life. At the age of 52 he established himself an even more profound and solemn attitude towards life. Although he still deeply loved Clara Schumann, the wife of his teacher and friend Robert Schumann, he could only keep his affection to Clara Schumann secretly in his mind due to his supreme respect to Robert Schumann. He put all these feelings very skilfully in his last symphony so, as one is listening to this symphony a vision of sad autumn scenes would seem to develop gradually deep in one's heart, and thus the symphony is often described as an "Autumn Symphony".

I love this symphony very much and so each time when I feel downcast I like to choose to enjoy listening to this symphony with my eyes shut that all my unhappiness would eventually disappear with a belief that life is still hopeful and worthy of living.

(Written on January 11, 2009)