How did the four symphonies of Brahms become established as the great works they are recognized as today? Until the late 1920s, for instance, they were rarely recorded in toto, unlike the symphonies of Beethoven, which had been put on disc complete as early as 1910?
In this amazing and comprehensive work, Christopher Dyment traces the history of how Brahms symphonies were interpreted by their earliest podium advocates, and how these peformances were regarded by critics and other listeners, including the composer himself. The story upends conventional wisdom about the critical reception of these symphonies, demonstrating in painstaking and comprehensive detail how an authentic performance tradition (a dangerous word, but in Dyment's work for once a trustworthy one) emerged from interpreters close to the composer himself, such as Fritz Steinbach in Meiningen, and by conductors such as Frtiz Busch and Arturo Toscanini, whose insight into the music matched Steinbach's. Dyment also considers conductors such as Hans von Bulow and Hans Richter, whose interpretations moved in different directions, as well as later performers who were influenced by all of these pioneers.
Containing a wealth of new information and a keen analysis of historical and musical matters, Dyment's work is an essential addition to any music lover's collection, and a mandatory acquisition for music and performance libraries. Sweeping aside received wisdom, Dyment has provided the definitive version of how Brahms symphonies became a part of the core of the musical canon.