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Johannes Brahms

Biography

While his contemporary Richard Wagner symbolized the progressive dissonances of one German school, Brahms represented the link to tradition. In many ways his music was a culmination of all traditional classical music that came before him, particularly the early Romantics such as Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann -- the latter helped spark Brahms' career with his favorable words. Brahms' style may have been conservative, but the detail and beauty of his output was extraordinary -- he could take the smallest fragment of a theme and extrapolate entire sections from it. His pieces also drew on local traditions, often bringing Hungarian folk rhythms into lively piano pieces. He mastered many classical forms, from rich, texturally inventive piano pieces to pastoral symphonies and chamber music, and his compositions still stand as the most enduring of the repertoire.
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