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Thursday, May 14, 2015

BRAHMS' LULLABY

While Johannes Brahms has been credited with, perhaps, 160 classical pieces, his Lullaby is his universal gift to Humanity.  Known by many as the Cradle Song, the original was entitled Wigenlied: Guten Abend, Gute Nacht (good evening, good night), and while there is nothing to substantiate this statement, I've read that it is the most played or sung of anything ever composed.    Hear 4 hours of this blissfulness....or 12 hours of calm.  Place into your iPod to put you to sleep tonight.

A bit of Wikipedia to add  to the story.  Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1833 to a mother who was 44, 17 years older than his father.  He was a musician and the family lived in general poverty, where it is said that Johannes played the piano in dance halls and brothels to increase the family income.  By the age of 20 Johannes already made concert tours, was a teacher and conducted orchestras.  While he began composing a the age of 11, he destroyed them all until 1853 (when he was 20, photo to the left--yes, there were cameras then).  At this age he moved into the home of Clara and Robert Schumann (he was 43), an already famous composer.  Schumann himself had a torturous life, courting Clara against her father's wishes, resulting in eight children.   Brahms, Schumann, Clara and her father all played the piano, with the latter being a well-regarded tutor of this instrument.  However, it turned out that  Robert had contracted syphillis at an earlier age, which attacked his brain two decades later, where in 1954 (soon after Brahms moved into his home), Schumann jumped off a bridge to commit suicide.  That failed, but he was, at his own request, admitted into a mental asylum and died in 1856.

While the relationship of Clara (right) and Johannes was said to be mostly platonic, as she was 14 years his senior, remember that his mother was 17 older than his father.  A month after Schumann's suicide, Johannes wrote to Clara:

I wish I could write to you as tenderly as I love you, and do as many good things for you, as you would like. You are so infinitely dear to me that I can hardly express it. I should like to call you darling and lots of other names, without ever getting enough of adoring you.[30][31]

Then three years later to a close friend, Joseph Joachim:

I believe that I do not respect and admire her so much as I love her and am under her spell. Often I must forcibly restrain myself from just quietly putting my arms around her and even—I don't know, it seems so natural that she would not take it ill.[30][33]

Well, the above is just some long background to Brahms' Lullaby, published in 1868.  Turns out that back in Johannes early Hamburg days he was in love with someone who sang in his women's choir named Bertha.  Many years later, when he had moved to Vienna, where he mostly lived as an adult, he re-acquainted with her, who had married Artur Faber.  Upon the birth of her second child, Johannes wrote the Cradle Song, and sent it to Artur.  Bertha thus was the first mother to sing this song.  Johannes never married.

Johannes Brahms, though, had a life, and had among his friends many noted artists of his time.  Even, then, you can only note some sadness for him to autograph on a fan for Adele Strauss, wife of Johan Strauss II, a lifelong friend:

Blue Danube.  Unfortunately not by Johannes Brahms!

Brahms was a skeptic, agnostic and humanist, sort of like me.  While I have not done any justice to his total works, for he is grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as the "Three Bs."  Brahms' Lullaby (by Jewel) is in my Top Ten of favorite tunes.  He passed away in 1897 at a relatively ripe age of 63 (life expectancy then was 42).


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Typhoon Dolphin is at 110 MPH and soon to impact Guam...but the island is fortress.  Rota might be in some trouble.  Then, the storm will strengthen into a Category 4, but turn north and east away from Japan.  Dolphin will weaken, but Hawaii could be impacted, at least with some waves.


Oh, by the way, if you're into natural disasters, TCM has today:

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