Introduction to Brahms, Symphony No.1 in C minor, op.68

"I shall never write a symphony! You have no idea how it makes one feel to
hear the thunderous step of a giant like him always behind you!", wrote
Johannes Brahms to a friend in the early 1870s. He had long felt
overwhelmed and creatively blocked by Beethoven's symphonic legacy. Though
he had been working on a symphony since the 1850s, he completed the score
of the First Symphony only in 1876. The work cannot deny the influence of
Brahms's great predecessor, and particularly the final theme shows an
obvious similarity to the "Ode to Joy" theme of Beethoven's Ninth. While
the outer movements frequently unfurl impressively concentrated masses of
sound, the two middle movements are more succinct and transparently
orchestrated. The four movements are also linked by motivic and harmonic
relationships which, however, are more subliminal than blatantly obvious.
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.1 in C minor, op.68
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Video Director: Humphrey Burton
Genre: Special
Length: 5 minutes
Cat.No.: A05500713