Johannes Brahms Mended a Friendship with this Music

May 12, 2017

Can making music together heal a fractured friendship? Johannes Brahms reached out to his friend Joseph Joachim in the way he knew best. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talks with violinist Joshua Bell to find out the details.

Radio script:  

[MUSIC: Brahms, Double Concerto in A minor]

Susan Lewis: In 1887, Brahms wrote his last orchestral work for his longtime friend, Joseph Joachim. They’d been estranged since the early 1880s, when the violinist believed Brahms had supported Joachim’s wife during a difficult divorce.

Joshua Bell:  And Brahms wrote this piece as a sort of peace offering and trying to mend this incredibly fruitful friendship that it had been.

SL: Violinist Joshua Bell says drama is reflected in the musical dialogue. 

JB:  There is a middle section of the slow movement where the violin is offering this sort of gesture of affection, questioning though—and then the cello comes in and interjects with this kind of… but, but no…  You can imagine if there were words. By the time you get to the end of the piece of total resolution and triumph, you feel as if you’ve been on an incredible journey.

SL: With Brahms conducting, Joachim played the world premiere with their mutual friend, cellist Robert Hausmann, in the fall of 1887.  

Joshua Bell performs the double concerto with his friend of three decades, cellist Stephen Iserlis and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on the CD, For the Love of Brahms.