William Sterling

Max Bruch

Brahms and Bruch

This was a comparative study of the two greatest German instrumental and choral composers of their day whose reputations have not fared equally well. Johannes Brahms and Max Bruch were two of the most celebrated composers in late nineteenth century Germany. Bruch predicted that his fame would fade as Brahms’s grew. Although he was correct, should we re-examine their relative merits?

Both were followers of Schumann and were championed by his widow, Clara. They formed an informal mutual admiration society and were two of the most outspoken opponents of the “new” school headed by Liszt and Wagner. Both concentrated on instrumental music producing some of the finest symphonies, concertos and chamber works of their day but also choral and other works. The course examined each composer’s contribution to the various types of instrumental and vocal music they concentrated on trying to work out why Brahms’s music has lasted so much better. The influence of Schumann, Mendelssohn and other composers was examined. Among the works that were studied were their symphonies, concertos (especially their respective violin concertos), piano works (especially Brahms), choral works (Brahms’s Requiem and Bruch’s oratorios) and chamber works (especially those for strings or involving viola and/or clarinet).

I ran this course at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) January-April 2005.

Bruch Chronology

Below is a copy of the life and works spreadsheets I created for this course.

Bruch life and works