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Brahms Premier of Symphony No. 1

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

Every composer since Beethoven has composed in the shadow of Beethoven.  And no one ever felt Beethoven’s enormous and enduring presence more keenly than Johannes Brahms.  In his apartment in Vienna, Brahms went so far as to install a bust of Beethoven on the wall behind the piano bench, so that for years Beethoven was literally looking over Brahms’s shoulder. 

“I will never write a symphony,” Brahms once wrote to a friend. “You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us.” Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that from the time he first started making sketches, it was over 20 years before Brahms finished his first symphony and felt confident enough to allow it to be performed in public. Brahms was 43 years old at the premiere of his Symphony Number One, and that premiere took place on this date, November 4, in the year 1876.

A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.