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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Symphony No. 4 in E Minor. Op. 98 - Brahms


Symphony No. 4 in E Minor. Op. 98

Johannes Brahms
(1833-97)



1. Allegro non assai.

2. Andante moderato.

3. Presto giocoso.

4. Allegro energetico e patetico.

The Fourth Symphony is universally recognized as the most individual of all Brahms' works of this class. In the simplicity and originality of its themes, and in the subjective character of its ideas, as well as in its development, it bears the unmistakable impress of its composer.

The first movement opens with a melodious theme of unusual length which is treated in a masterly but intricate style. It is a wayward fancy, now cheerful, and again serious, but coming to a sombre close as the second theme enters in the same general manner. As the movement draws to an end its melodious character grows more joyous, strong, and dramatic, and the development leaves little to desire in the way of pleasing variety and artistic effect.





The second movement is almost akin to the Lied in the gracefulness and sweetness of its melody, its warmth of tone, and refined, spirituelle character; and the third, in rondo form, is full of animation and good humor, and yet is dignified in style and strong in expression, as befits the serious purpose of the composer, who always has a lofty object in view.

The Finale, a development of the Passacaglia form, is a model of earnest, serious, artistic workmanship, every measure of it revealing the conscientious and scientific scholar. It opens with a succession of massive chords introducing a stately first theme which frequently reappears. A melodious flute solo intervenes, and then the development begins, in which the subjects are given out in a broad and restful manner and treated with a richness of color and refinement of style, as well as a perfection in workmanship, which have rarely been excelled.





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