Brahms’ honorary doctorate in 1879 from the University of Breslau described him as ‘artis music sevioris in Germanic nuns princeps’ or ‘the foremost composer of serious music in Germany’. You can imagine the problem that Wagner had with that commendation!
Robert Schumann (1810–1856) made wide use of imaginary characters, which he imbued with distinctive characteristics, to extend the meaning of his piano works. His most famous, of course, are Florestan and Eusebius, who stood for the two sides of his
Led by the nationalism of Mily Balakirev (1837-1910), the Mighty Handful were a group of dilettantes who deliberately kept out of the academic circles of the St Petersburg Conservatory and were starting to write their own music. That included Nikolai
On first hearing a performance of his fifth symphony in 1888, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) decided it was a failure: ‘There is something repellent in it, some over-exaggerated colour, some insincerity of invention, which the public instinctively recognises…’, as he
In his three-year stint (1892-1895) as artistic director of the National Conservatory of Music in America, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák caused a fundamental change in American classical music. As an outsider coming into the New World, he could better appreciate