Brahms, Schumann and Reinecke
In late 1853, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) made the acquaintance of Robert Schumann(1810-1856) and his wife Clara. Schumann was quick to recognise the genius of the then entirelyunknown twenty-year-old composer, and devoted the October issue of the Neue Zeitschrift fu?r Musik to a laudatory article about him under the revealing title Neue Bahnen. Schumann hailedBrahms as ‘an innovative musical force’ who offer ‘an astonishing glimpse of the secretsof the world of the supernatural’. In retrospect, of course, we must put matters into perspective. Forit was Richard Wagner, rather than Brahms, who was to explore new musical paths in the secondhalf of the nineteenth century. Moreover, Brahms was averse to any form of spirituality – it was themanic-depressive Schumann who had a craving for esotericism and was plagued by hallucinations: only a few months later, weary of life, he jumped into the Rhine and thereafter spent the last two years of his life in a psychiatric clinic. Whether the awakening close relationshipbetween Brahms and Schumann’s wife Clara played a role, remains a matter of conjecture.
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