are swaying into time away! there they go look!
you can not hear their voices now only see them! "
fl Schumann studied law, and had he followed that
profession he would have made a master before a jury.
He saw so clearly and felt so deeply, and was so full of
generosity and bubbling good-cheer, that he was irresist-
ible. As we know, he proved so to Clara Wieck, who left
father and mother and home to cleave to this unknown
composer 35 35
This splendid young woman was nine years younger
than Robert, but she had already made a name and
fortune for herself before they were married.
In passing it is well enough to call attention to the fact
that this is one of the great loves of history. It ranks
with the mating of Robert Browning and Elizabeth
Barrett. How strange that such things are so excep-
tional that the world takes note of them!
Yet for quite a number of years after their marriage,
Madame Schumann was at times asked this question:
"Is your husband musical? "
But Robert Schumann, like Robert Browning, was too
big a man to be jealous of his wife. Jealousy is an
acknowledgment of weakness and insecurity. " Robert
and Clara," their many dear friends always called them.
They worked together composed, sang, played, and
grew great together. And as if to refute the carping
critics who cry that domesticity and genius are incom-
patible, Clara Schumann became the happy mother of
eight children, and not a year passed but she appeared
upon the concert stage, while a nurse held the baby in
the wings. Schumann was very proud of his wife. He
was grateful to her for interpreting his songs in a way
he could not. His lavish heart went out to every one
who expressed the happiness and harmony which he
felt singing in his soul.
And so he welcomed all players and all singers, and all
who felt the influence of an upward gravitation.
Especially was he a friend of the young and the unknown.
His home at Dusseldorf was a Mecca for the aspiring
worthy and unworthy and to these he gave his time,
money and influence. " Genius must have recognition
we will discover and bring forth these beautiful souls;
we will liberate and give them to the world," he used
to say. Not only did he himself express great things, but
he quoted others.
Among those who had reverenced the Schumanns from
afar, came a young man of twenty, small and fair-
haired, from Hamburg. He was received at the regular
' Thursday Night " with various other strangers. These
meetings were quite informal, and everybody was asked
to play or sing. On being invited to play, our young man
declined. But on a second visit he sat down at the piano
and played. It was several minutes before the company
ceased the little buzz of conversation and listened the
fledglings were never taken seriously except by the host
and hostess. The youth leaned over the keyboard, and
seemed to gather confidence from the sympathetic
attitude of the listeners, and especially Clara Schumann,
who had come forward and stood at his elbow.
He played from Schumann's " Carnival," and as he
played, freedom came to him. He surprised himself.
When he ceased playing, Robert kissed his cheek, and
the company were vehement in their applause. Next day
Schumann met Albert Dietrich, another disciple who
had come from a distance to bask in the Schumann sun-
shine, and said with an air of mystery: "One has come
of whom we shall yet hear great things. His name is
Johannes Brahms." 33 33
E have at least four separate accounts of
Brahms' first appearance and behavior when
he arrived at the city of Dusseldorf. These
descriptions are by Robert and Clara Schu-
mann, Doctor Dieters and Albert Dietrich. All agree
that Johannes Brahms was a most fascinating personal-
ity. Dieters and Dietrich were about the age of Brahms,
and were lesser satellites swinging just outside the
Schumann orbit. Very naturally when a new devotee
appeared, they gazed at him askance. Many visitors
were coming and going, and from most of them there
was nothing to fear, but when this short, deep-chested
boy with flaxen hair appeared, Dietrich felt there was
danger of losing his place at the right hand of the
Master 33 33
Brahms carried his chin in, and the crown of his head
high. He was infinitely good-natured, met everybody
on an equality, without abasement or condescension.
He was modest, never pushed himself to the front, and
was always ready to listen. A talented performer who
can listen well, is sure to be loved. And yet when
Brahms went forward to play, there was just a sugges-
tion of indifference to his hearers in his manner, and a
half-haughty self-confidence that won before he had
sounded a note. We always believe in people who
believe in themselves.
Young Brahms brought a letter of introduction from
Joachim. But that was nothing Joachim was always
giving letters to everybody. He was like the men who
sign every petition that is presented; or those other
good men who give certificates of character to people
they do not know, and recommendation letters to those
for whom they have no use.
So the letter went for little with Robert Schumann it
was the way Brahms approached the piano, and settled
his hands and great shock-head over the keyboard, that
won 33 33
" He is no beginner," whispered Clara to Robert before
Johannes had touched a key.
It did n't take Brahms long to get acquainted he
mixed well. In a few days he dropped into that half-
affectionate way of calling his host and hostess by their
first names, and they in turn called him " Johannes."
And to me this is very beautiful, for, at the last, souls
are all of one age. More and more we are realizing that
getting old is only a bad habit. The only man who is old
is the one who thinks he is. Of course these remarks
about age do not exactly apply just here, for no member
of the trinity we are discussing was advanced in years.
Robert was forty-three, Clara was thirty-four, and
Johannes was twenty.
Johannes Brahms was thrice well blest in being well
born. His parents were middle-class people, fairly
well-to-do. They proved themselves certainly more than
middle-class in intellect, when they adopted the plan of
being the companions and comrades of their children.
Johannes grew up with no slavish fear of " old folks."
He had worked with his father, studied with him;
learned lessons from books with his mother, and played
" four hands " with her at the piano, by the hour, just
Then when Remenyi came that way with his violin, and
wanted a pianist, he took young Brahms. When their
lines crossed the line of Liszt, they played for him at his
inn; and then Liszt played for them.
This Remenyi was our own " Ol' Man Remenyi," who
passed over only a year or so ago. I wonder if he was
Ol' Man Remenyi then! He never really was an old
man, and that appellation was more a mark of esteem
than anything else a sort of diminutive of good-will.
I met Remenyi at Chautauqua, where he spent a month
or more in Eighteen Hundred Ninety-three. He gave
me my first introduction to the music of Brahms, of
whom he never tired of talking. He considered Brahms
without a rival the culminating flower of modern
music; and if the Ol' Man slightly exaggerated his own
influence in bringing Brahms out and presenting him to
the world, I am not the one to charge it up against his
memory 33 33
In explaining Brahms and his music, Remenyi used to
grow animated, and when words failed he would say,
" Here, it was just like this" and then he would seize
his violin, the bow would wave through the air, and the
notes would tell you how Brahms transposed Beethoven's
" Kreutzer Sonata " from A to B flat a feat he never
could have performed if Remenyi had not told him how.
It was Remenyi who introduced Brahms to Joachim, and
it was Joachim who introduced Brahms to Schumann,
and it was Schumann's article, " New Paths," in the
" Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik," that placed Brahms on a
pedestal before the world. Brahms was not the great
man that Schumann painted, Remenyi thought, but
the idealization caused him to put forth a heroic effort
to be what Clara and Robert considered him. So it was
really these two who compelled him to push on: other-
wise he might have relaxed into a mere concert per-
former or a leader of some subsidized band.
Remenyi always seemed to me like a choice antique
mosaic, a trifle weather-worn, set into the present. He
used to quote Liszt as if he lived around the corner, and
would criticize Wagner, and tell of Moescheles, Haertel,
the Mendelssohns and the Schumanns, as if they might
all gather tomorrow and play for us at the Hall in the
Grove 53 33
Recently I met dear old Herr Kappes, eighty years
young, who knew the Mendelssohns, and admired
Brahms, loved Clara Schumann, and liked Remenyi
sometimes. They were too much alike, I fear, to like
each other all the time. But the harmony is still in the
heart of Herr Kappes. He gives music-lessons, and
lectures, and will explain to you just how and where
Brahms differs from Schumann, and where Schubert
separates from both. <I Herr Kappes can speak five
languages, but even with them all he finds difficulty in
making his meaning clear, and at times adopts the
Remenyi plan, and will just turn to the piano and cry,
It 's like this, see! Schumann wrote it in this way"
and then the strong hands will chase the keys down and
back and over and up. " But Brahms took the motif and
set it like this " and Herr Kappes will strike the bass a
thunderous stroke pause, look at you, glide back and
down, up and over, and you are carried away in a swirl
of sweet sounds, and see a pink face framed in its
beautiful aureole of white hair. You listen but you do
not " see " the fine distinctions, because you do not
care Herr Kappes is all there is of it, so animated, so
gentle, so true, so lovable because he used to pay
court to Fanny Mendelssohn and then transferred
his affections to Clara Schumann, and now just loves
his art, and everybody.
CHUMANN'S article, " New Paths," at once
determined Brahms' career. He must either
live up to the mark that had been set for
him or else run away.
I give below an extract from Robert's estimate of
Brahms and his work:
Ten years have passed away, as many as I formerly
devoted to the publication of this paper since I have
allowed myself to commit my opinions to this soil so
rich in memories. Often in spite of an overstrained
productive activity, I have felt moved to do so; many
new and remarkable talents have made their appearance,
and a fresh musical power seemed about to reveal itself
among the many aspiring artists of the day, even if
their compositions were only known to the few.
I thought to follow with interest the pathways of these
elect ; there would there must after such a promise,
suddenly appear one who should utter the highest ideal
expression of the times, who should claim the master-
ship by no gradual development, but burst upon us
fully equipped, as Minerva sprang from the brain of
Jupiter. And he has come, this chosen youth, over
whose cradle the Graces and Heroes seem to have kept
watch 33 33
His name is Johannes Brahms; he comes from Hamburg,
where he has been working in quiet obscurity, instructed
by an excellent, enthusiastic teacher in the most
difficult principles of his art, and lately introduced to
me by an honored and well-known master. His mere
outward appearance assures us that he is one of the
elect 33 33
Seated at the piano, he disclosed wondrous regions. We
were drawn into an enchanted circle. Then came a
moment of inspiration which transformed the piano
into an orchestra of wailing and jubilant voices. There
were sonatas, or rather veiled symphonies, songs whose
poetry revealed itself without the aid of words, while
throughout them all ran a vein of deep song-melody,
several pieces of a half-demoniacal character, but of
charming form; then sonatas for piano and violin, string
quartets, and each of these creations so different from
the last that they appeared to flow from so many
different sources. Then, like an impetuous torrent, he
seemed to unite these streams into a foaming waterfall ;
over the tossing waves the rainbow presently stretches
its peaceful arch, while on the banks butterflies flit to
and fro, and the nightingale warbles her song.
Whenever he bends his magic wand towards great
works, and the powers of orchestra and chorus lend
him their aid, still more wonderful glimpses of the
ideal world will be revealed to us.
May the Highest Genius help him onward! Mean-
while another genius that of modesty seems to
dwell within him. His comrades greet him at his first
step in the world, where wounds may, perhaps, await
him, but the bay and the laurel also; we welcome this
Robert Schumann had been before the public as essay-
ist, poet, pianist and composer for twenty years. He had
given himself without stint to almost every musical
enterprise of Germany, and his sympathy was ever on
tap for every needy and aspiring genius. You may give
your purse he who takes it takes trash but to give
your life's blood and then hope for a renewal of life's
lease, is vain.
The public man owes to himself and to his Maker the
duty of reserve.
The desert and mountain are very necessary to the
individual who gives himself to the public. That any
man should so bestride the narrow world like a colossus
that the multitude must stop to gaze, and thousands
feed upon his words, is an abnormal condition. The only
thing that can hold the balance true is solitude. Relaxa-
tion is the first requirement of strength. Watch the
cat, the tiger or the lion asleep. See what complete
absence of intensity what perfect relaxation! It is all
a preparation for the spring.
Schumann had not sought the mountain, nor abandoned
himself to the woods in old shoes, corduroys and a
flannel shirt. Now he was paying the penalty of public-
ity. Virtue had gone out of him; and in the article just
quoted, there are signs that he is clutching for something.
He hails this new star and proclaims him, because in
some way he feels that the ruddy, valiant and youthful
Brahms is to consummate his work. Brahms is an
extension of himself. It is a part of that longing for
immortality we perpetuate ourselves in our children
and look for them to accomplish what we have been
unable to do.
Johannes Brahms was the spiritual son of Robert
Schumann. <I In less than a year after Brahms and
Schumann first met, there were ominous signs and evil
portents in the air. ft Why do you play so fast, dear
Johannes? I beg of you, be moderate!" cried Robert
on one occasion. Brahms turned, and his quick glance
caught the ashy face and bloodshot eyes of a sick
man. His reply was a tear and a hand-grasp.
Soon, to Schumann, all music was going at a gallop,
and in his ears forever rang the sound of A. He could
hear naught else. Tenderness, patience, and even love
were of no avail. Indeed, love is not exempt from
penalty the law of compensation never rests. Nature
forever strives for a right adjustment.
The richness and intensity of Schumann's life were
bought with a price. The first year after his mar-
riage he composed one hundred thirty-eight songs.
Sonatas, scherzos, symphonies and ballads followed
fast, and in it all his gifted wife had gloried.
But when, in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-four, Robert
had, after sleepless nights, in a fit of frenzy thrown him-
self into the Rhine, and had been rescued, shattered,
unable to recognize even his nearest friends the loyal
and devoted wife saw where she herself had erred 33
Writing to Brahms she says: " I encouraged him in his
work, and this fired his ambition to do and to become.
Oh ! why did I not restrain that intensity and send him
away into the solitude to be a boy; to do nothing but
frolic and play and bathe in the sunshine, and eat and
sleep? The life of an artist is death. Kill ambition, my
Activity and rest both are needed. The idea of the
" retreat " in the Catholic Church is founded on stern,
hygienic science. Wagner's forced exile was not without
its advantages, and the " retreats " of Paganini and the
" retirements " of Liszt were very useful factors in the
devolution of their art.
OR the malady that beset Robert Schumann,
there was no cure save death; his only rest,
the grave. When his spirit passed away in
Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six, his devoted wife
and the loyal Brahms attended him. Owing to the
insidious creeping of the disease, Schumann's affairs had
got into bad shape; and it was now left to Brahms,
more than all others, to smooth the way of life for the
stricken wife and her fatherless brood.
The versatility and sturdy commonsense of Brahms
were now in evidence. In business affairs he was ready,
decisive and systematic. And the delicacy, tact and
charming good-nature he ever showed, reveal the man
as a most extraordinary figure. Great talent is often
bought at a price how well we know this, especially
with musicians! But Brahms was sane on all subjects.
He could take care of his own affairs, lend a needed
hand with others, but never meddle smile with that
half-sardonic grimace at all foolish little things, weep
with the stricken when calamity came; yet above it all
the little man towered, carrying himself like the giant
that he was. And yet he never made the mistake of
taking himself too seriously. " I am trying to run
opposition to Michelangelo's ' Moses,' " he once called
to Dietrich, as he leaned out of the window in the sun-
shine, and stroked his flowing beard. In his later years
many have testified to this Jovelike quality that
Brahms diffused by his presence. No one could come
into his aura and fail to feel his sense of power. Around
such souls is a sacred circle if you are allowed to come
within this boundary, it is only by sufferance; within
this space only the pure in heart can dwell.
OLSTOY in "Anna Karenina " speaks of that
quiet and constant light to be seen on the
faces of those who are successful those who
know that their success is acknowledged by
the world 33 33
Brahms was a successful man by temperament, for
success (like East Aurora) is a condition of mind.
There is no tragedy for those who do not accept
tragedy; and the treatment we receive from others is
only our own reflected thought.
Brahms thought well of everybody, if he thought of any
one at all. He reveled in the sunshine, and everywhere
made friends of children. " We saw Brahms on the
hotel veranda at Domodossola," wrote a young woman
to me in Eighteen Hundred Ninety-five, " and what do
you think ? he was on all-fours, with three children on
his back, riding him for a horse! "
For many years Brahms used to make an annual
pilgrimage to Italy, and often on these tours at fairs he
would fall in with Gipsy bands. At such times he would
always stop and listen, and would lustily applaud the
performance. On one such occasion, Dietrich tells, the
leader recognized Brahms, and instantly rapped for
silence. He was seen to pass the whispered word along,
and then the band struck up one of Brahms' pieces,
greatly to the delight of the composer.
He was a man of the people, and I am glad to know that
he hated a table d' hote, smiled a smile of derision at all
dress-coats, had small sympathy with pink teas, loved
his friends, doted on babies, and was never so happy as
when in the country walking along grass-grown lanes in
the early summer morning, when the dew was on and
the air was melodious with the song of birds. He had a
habit of going bareheaded, carrying his hat in his hand ;
and on these country walks, always with bared head,
he would sing or whistle, and unconsciously in his mind
the music would be taking shape that was to be written
out later in the quiet of his study.
Brahms knew the world not simply one little part of
it he knew it as thoroughly as any man can, and was
interested in it all. He knew the world of workers the
toilers and bearers of burdens. He knew the weak and
the vicious, and his heart went out to them in sympathy ;
for he knew his own heart and realized the narrow
margin that separates the so-called " good " from the
alleged " bad." He knew that sin is only a wrong
expression of life, and reacts to the terrible disadvantage
of the sinner.
He was interested in mechanics bookbinding, printing,
iron-working, carpentry, and was well acquainted with
all new inventions and labor-saving devices. He knew
the methods of farming, the different breeds of cattle;
he knew what soil would produce best a certain crop,
and understood " rotation." He could call the wild
birds by name and imitate their notes, and studied long
their haunts and habits. That excellent man and
talented, George Herschel, in a letter to a friend speaks
of walking with Johannes Brahms along the highway,
and Brahms suddenly calling in alarm, " Look out!
look out! you may kill it! "
It was only a tumblebug, but he shrank from putting
foot on any living thing. Brahms reverenced all life, and
felt in his heart that he was brother to that bug in the
dust, to the birds that chirruped in the hedgerows, and
to the trees that lifted their outstretching branches to
He was deeply religious although he never knew it.
All music is a hymn of praise, a song of thanksgiving, a
chant of faith. Music is a making manifest to our dull
ears the divine harmony of the universe, and thus all
music is sacred music, and all true musicians are priests,
for by their ministrations we are made to realize our
Oneness with the Whole. Through music we read the
Universal 53 53
Music is the only one of the arts that can not be prosti-
tuted to a base use. We hear of bad books, of the
' Index Expurgatorius," and in every State there are
laws against the publication of immoral books and
indecent pictures. We also hear of orders issued by the
courts requiring certain statues to be removed or veiled,
but no indictment can be brought against music. It is
the only one of the arts that is always pure.
Brahms realized this and felt the dignity of his office,
holding high the standard; and yet he knew that the
toilers in the fields were doing a service to humanity,
just as necessary as his own. And possibly this is why he
uncovered, walking with bared head. All is holy, all is
good it is all God's world, and all the men and women
in it are His children.
OR forty-two years Brahms was the devoted
friend of Clara Schumann. She was thirteen
years his senior, yet their spirits were as
children together. From the first he was to
her, " Johannes," and she was " Clara " to him. A few
of their letters have been published in the " Revue des
deux Mondes," and this woman, who was a great-
grandmother, and had sixty years before captured a
world, then in her seventy-fifth year, wrote to her
" Dear Johannes " with all the gentle fervor of a girl of
twenty, congratulating him on some recent success. In
reply he writes back to his "Dear Clara'* in gracious
banter ; mentions rheumatism in his legs as an excuse for
bad penmanship; hopes she is keeping up her practise;
tells of a Steinway Grand " that some one has sent
him, and regrets that she does not come to try it " four
hands," as he has failed utterly to get out of it alone
the melody that he knows is there.
Brahms never married the bond between himself and
Clara was too sacred to allow another to sever or share
it. And yet the relationship was so high, so frank, so
openly avowed, that no breath of scandal has ever
The purity and excellence of it all has been its own
apology, as love ever should be its own excuse for being.
*I For about three months every year these two friends
dwelt near each other. Together they worked, composed,
sang, read, wrote and roamed the woods. " None of
Madame Schumann's children is as young as she is,"
wrote Doctor Hanslick, when Clara was sixty and
Johannes was forty-seven. " With the hope of passing
for her father, Brahms is cultivating a patriarchal