18. Brahms: 1st Symphony
[…] Brahms is the only friend you have,
the only friend you want,
him and the wine bottle,
as you realize that
you will never be
a citizen of the world.
Excerpt from A Place In Philly by Charles Bukowski
With Beethoven dead and buried, the symphony crowd anxiously looked for a successor. All eyes were on big bearded bad boy Brahms, who played piano in brothels to bolster the family income.
Brahms’ First is sometimes referred to as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’ since the 4th movement is clearly ‘inspired’ by the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth. Bukowski was aware of that, and refers to it in the poem Brave Bull: […] "and although Brahms stole his First from Beethoven’s Ninth". Brahms has always dismissed claim of plagiarism by stating it was done deliberately as a tribute to the Master: “Any ass can hear that.”
Kurt Sanderling & Staatskapelle Dresden
There are many decent recordings of Brahms’ four symphonies. There’s Klemperer, there’s Walter and more recent there’s Chailly. All trusted Brahms devotees, who clearly know what they are doing. Yet it is Kurt Sanderling who gives his First the passion, pulse and power it bloody well deserves.