A New York Times Notable Book
"This brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet to...become the definitive study of Johannes Brahms."--The Plain Dealer
Judicious, compassionate, and full of insight into Brahms's human complexity as well as his music, Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biography.
Proclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was only twenty, Johannes Brahms dedicated himself to a long and extraordinarily productive career. In this book, Jan Swafford sets out to reveal the little-known Brahms, the boy who grew up in mercantile Hamburg and played piano in beer halls among prostitutes and drunken sailors, the fiercely self-protective man who thwarted future biographers by burning papers, scores and notebooks late in his life. Making unprecedented use of the remaining archival material, Swafford offers richly expanded perspectives on Brahms's youth, on his difficult romantic life--particularly his longstanding relationship with Clara Schumann--and on his professional rivalry with Lizst and Wagner.
"[Johannes Brahms] will no doubt stand as the definitive work on Brahms, one of the monumental biographies in the entire musical library."--London Weekly Standard
"It is a measure of the accomplishment of Jan Swafford's biography that Brahms's sadness becomes palpable.... [Swafford] manages to construct a full-bodied human being."--The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Jan Swafford is an award-winning composer whose music has been played around the US and abroad by ensembles including the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Vermont, and Harrisburg, and by the Dutch Radio Orchestra. He is the author of Johannes Brahms: A Biography, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and Charles Ives: A Life with Music, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the PEN/Winship Award. He is also the author of The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. His writing and commentary on music has been featured on NPR and in Slate, the Guardian, Gramophone, and elsewhere. Swafford teaches music history, theory, and composition at the Boston Conservatory.