selected and annotated by Styra Avins ; translations by Josef Eisinger and Styra Avins
This book is the first comprehensive collection of the letters of Johannes Brahms ever to appear in English. Over 550 are included, virtually all uncut, and there are over a dozen published here for the first time in any language. Although he corresponded throughout his life with some of the great performers, composers, musicologists, writers, scientists, and artists of the day, and although thousands of his letters have survived, English readers have until now had scant opportunity to meet Brahms in person, through his words, and in his own voice. 'I am aware of my bad habit of writing briefly but obscurely', Brahms once wrote to a friend. He was needlessly hard on himself, for his letters describe many significant events in his life, throw light on his friendships and music, and reveal his wit, idealism, intelligence, generosity, sarcasm, and above all his powerful sense of integrity. The letters in this volume range from 1848 to just before his death. They include all Brahms's letters to Robert Schumann, over a hundred letters to Clara Schumann, and the complete Brahms-Wagner correspondence.
They are joined by a running commentary to form an absorbing narrative, documented with scholarly care, provided with comprehensive notes, but written for the general music lover. The result is a lively biography. The book is generously illustrated, and contains several detailed appendices and an index.