Johannes Brahms was a composer of the Mid-Romantic Era. Brahms’ musical style goes between being traditional and that of an innovator. His musical style has some aspects of Baroque and Classical music but he incorporates new techniques that were popular of the Romantic Era such as incorporating musical emotion. Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor is a piece that has all of Brahms’ musical elements as well as aspects of the Mid-Romantic Era.
The first movement of Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor is in sonata form. It opens with solo cello over chords in the piano. There is intensity in the dynamics that is an aspect of the Mid-Romantic era as well as multiple key modulations – the piece goes from E minor through C Major, B Minor, the B Major. The Exposition repeats and then is followed by a development. The development has bursts of energy and then dies away to return to the opening theme.
Comparing Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor to another piece of the time period, Verdi’s Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo from La Traviata, there are many differences as well as similarities. First, La Traviata is an opera. The solo cello in Brahms’ can be compared to the singers in the opera. Both are lyrical and express emotion, which is an aspect of the Mid-Romantic era. The differences are the dynamic range in Verdi’s piece but Brahms also has dynamic contrast as well as intensity in the cello line. Both have simple accompaniment as to not draw away from the drama of the solo instruments/vocalists.
I have played Brahms’ cello sonata and it is one of my favorite works. It was very interesting seeing why exactly this piece falls into the Mid-Romantic era – it is easy to hear because of the emotion in the cello part. I love playing emotional pieces and this sonata definitely fits!!
Works Cited Edit
Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, New York). 2010.
Crocker, Richard. A History of Musical Style. McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1966.
“Brahms Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor 1st Movement.” Youtube Video. Posted by “dishey.” Uploaded July 11, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74XXATFPTWM
“Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo.” Youtube Video. Posted by “ursey39.” Uploaded February 27, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTIWJdeOvI