BRAHMS, Johannes, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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BRAHMS, Johannes (1833-1897). German composer and pianist.
Autograph Letter Signed ('J.Br.') to the music publisher Fritz Simrock, 4 pages 8vo, dated in another hand Vienna, 19 April 1884. A fine letter ranging through a variety of subjects, and in particular praising the music of Verhulst. With a full transcript and translation.
Brahms begins by sending his apologies to Herr Düffel, apparently because of a lost book (he offers to buy another copy). He expresses the hope that Simrock will not lose the services of Keller, and mentions two-handed piano arrangements. He continues by praising the music of Verhulst:
'... I keep meaning to speak to you about some very beautiful children's songs by Verhulst. You should send for:
Op. 30 Kinderleven
I. 29 songs for solo voice and piano
II. 11 songs for several voices
The Hague, Boshart & Osthoff
(Thenne & Co.)
'Verhulst is someone else who knows all about the gratitude of the public. These songs and others by him are quite charming, and if it were not for the fact that he is so patriotic and eccentric as to use Dutch texts, he would surely be highly esteemed. But in Holland they sing everything but his very attractive Dutch songs.However, these children's songs are worth translating and publishing in a new edition, and would certainly repay the effort. Take a look at them; you'll really enjoy the fresh, natural, extremely charming tone of childhood. Of course, it would be necessary to arrange for a really good translation, one that also would preserve that tone as much as possible; it's a bit like our own Low German dialect. And something like "Dutch Children's Songs" could go on the title page. ...'
Brahms continues with mentions of Wüllner, Gerasheim and Joachim.
Johannes Verhulst (b The Hague, 19 March 1816; d Bloemendaal, 17 Jan 1891). Dutch composer and conductor. He was one of the first pupils at the Koninklijke Muzijkschool in his native city, where he studied the violin and theory with J.H. Lübeck and C.J. Lechleitner. From 1832 he was a church organist and also played in the orchestras of the royal chapel and the Théâtre Français, whose conductor, C.-L.-J. Hanssens, taught him orchestration. After receiving Mendelssohn's praise in 1836 for his Overture op.2 he decided to continue his studies in Leipzig. He went first to Cologne, studying briefly with Josef Klein, and in early 1838 arrived in Leipzig, where he became a close friend of Schumann and conducted the Euterpe orchestra (1838-42) in programmes even more progressive than those of the Gewandhaus orchestra. After returning to the Netherlands in 1842 he became music director at the court of Willem II, and conductor of the Rotterdam Toonkunst choir (1843-4, 1848-63). He achieved international fame as director of the 1854 Rotterdam festival held to celebrate 25 years of Toonkunst's existence. During the 1860s he assumed virtual control of Dutch musical life, becoming director of the Diligentia concerts in The Hague (1860), the choir of the Amsterdam section of Toonkunst and the Caecilia orchestra (both 1864) and the Felix Meritis orchestra (1865). His antipathy to the New German School (although he introduced Bruckner's Third Symphony to the Netherlands in 1885) forced his resignation from the Diligentia concerts in 1886, and he withdrew completely from public life shortly afterwards.
The stylistic influence of Schumann and Mendelssohn pervades Verhulst's instrumental works, although he experimented with chromaticism in the Symphony in E minor and introduced a recognizably New German flavour with his declamatory treatment of Dutch song texts while adhering to classical formal principles. His choral music is weak, and only in the hymn Clemens est Dominus and the Kyrie of the Mass op.20 are original traits to be found. [Grove Music Online].

[No: 23125]


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