Johannes Brahms, German composer and pianist, was one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, where he was a leader of the musical scene.
Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he gave the first performance of many of his own works; he also worked with the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.
Brahms was at once a traditionalist and an innovator; his music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint and also of development; Brahms took these old-fashioned structures and turned them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms' works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.