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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Serenade No. 1. Op. 11 - Brahms


Serenade No. 1. Op. 11

Johannes Brahms
(1833-97)



Brahms wrote two serenades, No. 1, op. 11, in D, for full orchestra, and No. 2, op. 16, in A, for small orchestra. By the title "Serenade" in this connection, however, the hearer is not to expect the vocal serenade of the lover to his inamorata, much less such music as may be performed by an instrumental organization in honor of some eminent personage. The Brahms serenades are purely instrumental and in regular form, composed in several short movements and constructed concisely upon thematic material and its development.

The Serenade No. 1 is in five short movements. The first, Allegro molto, opens with sustained tones in the violins and cellos and the announcement of the first theme in the horns, repeated by the clarinet. After development in full orchestra, closing with a vigorous climax, the second theme enters in the first violins and bassoons and then passes to the first and second violins. It is developed at some length. Another brilliant theme follows, and this part of the movement closes with a repetition of the foregoing work. The free fantasia begins with the second theme, but depends mainly upon the first, which is elaborately developed and finally leads to the first, announced in full in the solo horn as at first. The clarinet repetition also appears, and the movement comes to a closing pianissimo in which both themes have a place. The second movement, Scherzo, opens with a theme in the strings and bassoon, which is developed at considerable length and repeated after the Trio. The third movement, Adagio non troppo, like the first, is in strict form. The opening theme is given out in the bass strings and bassoon and the usual development follows. Passage work in the first violins and violas, with a tremolo accompaniment in the remaining strings, leads to the second theme, announced in the horns. All this thematic material is worked up, and the movement closes with a short Coda. The fourth movement is composed of two light Minuets for reduced orchestra, the first being repeated after the second. The fifth movement is another Scherzo, the principal theme given out in the horns, which also have the melody in the Trio. After repetition of the trio the Scherzo is repeated, bringing the movement to its close. The last movement is a brilliant Rondo, composed of two themes, the first for the cellos, clarinet, and bassoon, and the second for the first violins with accompaniment by the violas, horns, and cellos.





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