Johannes Brahms and the Performance Practice in Romantic Chamber Music

The Works for One Instrument and Piano

Johannes Brahms’ compositions for one instrument and piano were written with specific performers in mind and Brahms worked closely with them when refining the final texts. Nevertheless, we rarely approach the music taking into consideration the possibilities of the instruments for which Brahms wrote or the performing practices of the individual players who first performed these compositions, including Brahms himself.

Bärenreiter’s pioneering scholarly-critical editions were edited by a team of musicologists who are also performers. They start from the premise that within 20 years of Brahms‘ death a widening gulf developed between the composer’s expectations and early 20th century musical practice. How to read Brahms‘ notation the way he actually intended was rapidly forgotten.

Bärenreiter’s editions of Brahms‘ works for one instrument and piano not only provide a reliable musical text based on all known sources, but also seek to recover some of the messages and performing practices that Brahms expected his notation to convey to a performer. These editions as well as a text booklet - an integral part of this Brahms publication complex - discuss issues specific to each work as well as to general 19th century performance practice with regard to e.g. tempo, rubato, rhythmic flexibility and articulation. Furthermore string players will find valuable information concerning vibrato, portamento, fingering and bowing; pianists will be enlightened with regard to pedalling, overholding, arpeggiation and dislocation.