Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: Johannes Brahms and his Symphony No. 4

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

We mark the world premiere – on October 25, 1885, 136 years ago today – of Johannes Brahms’ fourth and final symphony.  Performed by the superb Meiningen Court Orchestra, the performance was conducted by Brahms himself.  It went well.

We’ll get to Herr Doktor Professor Brahms in a bit.  But first, some gratuitous, auto back slapping.

I began writing these Music History Monday posts in September of 2016.  That was when Melanie Smith, President of San Francisco Performances (for which I am the Music-Historian-in-Residence) asked me to write some sort of regular feature for SFP’s Facebook page.  Here’s the first paragraph of my first post: a celebration of the birthday of Anton Diabelli (1771-1858, as in Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations) that appeared on September 5, 2016:

“Welcome to what will become a weekly feature here on the San Francisco Performances Facebook page, ‘Music History Monday.’ (As titles go that’s about as thrilling as root canal, but it is an accurate description of the feature’s content so run with it we will.) Every Monday I will dredge up some timely, perhaps intriguing and even, if we are lucky, salacious chunk of musical information relevant to that date, or to San Francisco Performances’ concert schedule, or to . . . whatever.  If on (rare) occasion these features appear a tad irreverent, well, that’s okay: we would do well to remember that cultural icons do not create and make music but rather, people do, and people can do and say the darndest things.”

(For our information, I began writing these Music History Monday posts a full two years before I signed on with Patreon.)

I will say with no small bit of pride (deadly sin though it presumably may be) that I have not missed a single Monday since, making this my 267th consecutive Music History Monday post.

Darned straight impressive. 

(Although no questions, please, as to whether or not I “have a life.”)

The five-year life of this post means a couple of things.  First, in less than two years, I will begin my second cycle through Monday dates.  Having already plucked the low-hanging topics my first go around, I’m going to have to work a bit harder to find date-appropriate topics to write about.  Second – and on these same lines – it means that I’ve already covered a lot of topical ground.…

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