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Hey Kids, Meet Johannes Brahms | Composer Biography

from the Hey Kid's Meet the Composer Index



Hey Kids, Meet Brahms

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) German Romantic Era Composer

Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833. Johannes' father, a town musican, gave him his first musical instruction. At the age of seven he studied piano with Otto Friedrich Willibald Cossel. Young Brahms gave concerts in Hamburg and worked playing piano in restaurants and theaters to help support his family.

When Brahms was 20 he met famous composers Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann. Schumann was so impressed with Brahms' music that he wrote an article for a music journal that made Brahms famous. Brahms' success was also due to his hard work and his critical attitude toward his own music. He never felt he could live up to the standard set by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Brahms was one of the few music composers who could devote his time completely to composing without having to accept other employment. In fact, he spent so much time with his composing that he sometimes neglected his appearance. Sometimes, when he forgot to attach his suspenders, he would have to hold his pants up while conducting to keep them from falling down.

In 1889 Thomas Edison, an American inventor, visited Brahms in Vienna and invited him to perform for an experimental recording. Brahms played an abbreviated version of Hungarian Dance No.1 on the piano. The performance is one of the earliest recordings ever made by a major composer.

Listen to Brahms' historic performance of Hungarian Dance No.1 on YouTube.com.

In later years, Brahms often participated in performances of his own compositions. In 1890, at the age of 57, he decided to give up composing. But this did not last long. He soon started composing again and his efforts in these final years produced several works that are now recognized as masterpieces.

Johannes Brahms died on April 3, 1897, a celebrated composer of the Romantic Era. His most notable works include his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Liebeslieder Waltzes, Academic Festival Overture and his Lullaby.


Watch a Video

Watch a performance of Brahms' Lullaby, performed by master cellist, Yo-Yo Ma.




Browse Related Free Sheet Music, Music Lesson Plans and More

Beginner and Easy Sheet Music

Brahms' Lullaby (Cradle Song) Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 3
Waltz in Ab Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 3
Hungarian Dance No. 5 Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 5
Brahms' Lullaby Easy Flute Sheet Music
Brahms' Lullaby Easy Clarinet Sheet Music
Brahms' Lullaby Easy Alto Saxophone Sheet Music
Brahms' Lullaby Easy Trumpet Sheet Music
Brahms' Lullaby Easy Violin Sheet Music


Hey Kids, Meet the Composer Worksheets (Famous Composers)

Brahms | Word Search Worksheet
Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet
Brahms | Coloring Page


Free Homeschool Music Lesson Plans

Johannes Brahms | Famous Composer Homeschool Music Lesson Plans