Introduction to Brahms, Symphony No. 4

Composed during the summer months of the years 1884 and 1885 in
M├╝rzzuschlag, southwest of Vienna, the Fourth Symphony tended to disconcert
the public at first and had to prove itself in the concert circuit before
gaining recognition as a masterwork of epoch-making stature. What Brahms's
contemporaries regarded as difficult and bewildering were above all the
extreme constructive density of the score, the unusual layout, especially
of the third and fourth movements, a number of archaic elements pointing
back to the formulae and techniques of "early music" (the passacaglia in
the fourth movement) and the austere, elegiac mood that permeates the
entire work. The premiere of the Fourth Symphony performed by the Meiningen
Court Orchestra in Meiningen under Brahms's direction on 25 October 1885
was a great success. The work became the chief feature of the orchestra's
ensuing tour, with Brahms conducting it in nine cities.
Between 1981 and 1984, Leonard Bernstein recorded nearly all of Brahms's
orchestral works with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to honor the 150th
anniversary of the composer's birth in 1983. Today, the cycle is considered
as a landmark in the interpretation of Brahms' music. Bernstein and the
Vienna Philharmonic have underscored both the classicism and romanticism,
the dramatic intensity and the sober restraint of Brahms's music. The venue
was Vienna's Musikvereinssaal, where two of Brahms's symphonies were
premiered and where Brahms himself conducted. In his introductions,
Bernstein speaks with an eloquence and conviction that go far beyond the
opening words to a traditional concert performance. With his stimulating
theories on Brahms and his music, Bernstein prompts viewers to listen to
the music with an open mind.

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Title: Introduction to Brahms, Symphony No. 4
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Video Director: Humphrey Burton
Genre: Special
Length: 11 minutes
Cat.No.: A05500716