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Young Brahms

Between Nature and Poetry (2022)

On 7 May, the birthday of Johannes Brahms, the Brahms-Institut at Musikhochschule Lübeck opened its exhibition: "Young Brahms – Between Nature and Poetry". The exhibition focussed on the young North German and thereby discovered other facets of the musician than the common Brahms reception. At the same time, it marked the beginning of the 30th Brahms Festival at MHL, which, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s death, was entirely dedicated to the Romantic period.

The popular image of Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) is shaped by photos from his late years, with the bearded Brahms sitting in a garden and looking pensively and melancholically into the camera. The new exhibition in the Brahms-Institut at MHL, by contrast, looks at the young composer. Director of the Institut, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger: "Young Brahms is a fiery genius who devours romantic literature. He identifies with a cult figure like Johannes Kreisler from the pen of E.T.A. Hoffmann. This fascination for Hoffmann and his music lie close together. Precisely this makes young Brahms so fascinating for us today."

The exhibition sheds light on the young composer’s sources of inspiration with around 80 exhibits, which mostly come from the Institut’s own valuable collection. They include letters, photos, music scores and books from the library of Johannes Brahms. Many exhibits are to be seen for the first time in a public exhibition. Music examples and readings complete the exhibition with impressive auditive experiences.

The 21-year-old blonde Johannes is one of the "most beautiful and brilliant youths", says Robert Schumann. The works of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Joseph von Eichendorff cast a spell over Brahms. He identifies with 'Kapellmeister Kreisler' so much that he even signs autographs and letters as "Johannes Kreisler". In his volume of Hoffmann’s collected tales, various markings testify to the composer’ enthusiastic perusal. Young Brahms has a profound relation to nature which also inspires his compositions. Letters and further exhibits shed light on his romantic Rhine tour and his also literarily mediated enthusiasm for Scotland.

The catalogue to the exhibition appeared on 1 Juli 2022 in cooperation with the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.

Young Brahms
Between Nature and Poetry (2022)

Opening Times:
Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m.;
from 8 to 15 May daily from 2 to 6 p.m.

Initial Opening:

Christoph Arta M.A., Lea Kollath M.Ed., Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger, Stefan Weymar M.A.