Brahms and Schumann: A Symbiotic Relationship

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Both Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms wrote four symphonies. But while it took Schumann a few weeks to write his First Symphony, it took Brahms some 20 years to compose his. 

In four recent, consecutive concerts at the Philharmonie, the home of the Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the orchestra pair the two composers' symphonies, beginning with the Schumann Symphony No 1 in B-flat ("Spring") and the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C. Tonight's broadcast features these two seminal works.

"Schumann of course is the Romantic, the echt (genuine) Romantic," says Rattle. He notes that Schumann was also Brahms's mentor.

"For me it will be fascinating to see how each composer influences each other," Rattle adds. "[W]e so often play Brahms so massively. I think the the lightness, the airiness, the feet-off-the-groundness of Schumann will have an effect...And very often Brahms is looking back to Schumann. If you listen to the two middle movements of the first symphony, you can see how much Schumann is there. The outer two movements almost slap that away, saying 'here is Beethoven. Here I must be a follower of Beethoven.'"


Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B flat major Spring
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor

The Berlin Philharmonic's Schumann recording cycle is available at and on iTunes.