Johannes Brahms’ music has made it into more than one novel of worldwide fame. The obvious one is “Aimez-vous Brahms?” (English title: Goodbye Again) published by the French author Françoise Sagan in 1959. In 1987, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami highlights in his novel “Norwegian Wood” both Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83. Sagan and Murakami wrote love stories, very different in style, set in a different social context but with a common subject: sexual desire, moral conventions and unfulfilled love, topics linked to Brahms, his biography and his music.
The bigger picture – apparently that is what we have to look at in order to understand what’s happening around us. But is that true? By constantly looking at the bigger picture, we may well miss the little details that matter to take an informed decision. And we may also miss those little details that make an ordinary day an exceptional one.
Listening to and writing about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is always a pleasure, a relief from everyday’s hustle and bustle. Here I sit with two hours to kill and I have nothing better to do than to enjoy Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 27 in G, K. 379, performed by Augustin Dumay (violin) and Maria Joao Pires (piano). And once again I struggle to find the right English word to describe the music’s mood. “Innig” in German – intimate, profound, heartfelt; that’s what the dictionary gives me. But it only hints at the depth of emotion stirred up by the first movement.
The wind, the wind, the heaven-born wind – you probably recognize that. It’s Hänsel and Gretel’s answer to the witch’s question: “Nibble, nibble, gnaw, who’s nibbling at my little house?” This string quartet is like the wind, or rather it is a whisper murmured into the wind, not meant to stay, meant to be blown away. Is it a lamentation? A silent prayer? A half-audible thought? A drawn-out sob about a sad reminiscence?