If there is anyone here I have not offended, I apologize.
are divided as to whether Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), whose music is
among the most beloved and masterful in history, actually made the
above remark on taking his leave from a party.1–2 But
there is little doubt that he could have. Brahms was possessed of a
crusty personality, and even long, close friendships with Clara
Schumann and the violin virtuoso Josef Joachim were frequently
punctuated by bursts of rancor and thoughtlessness. Brahms’
personality was probably influenced by humiliating childhood
experiences playing the piano in Hamburg bordellos to augment the
meager family income, although considerable debate persists as to the
exact nature of these episodes.3–5 Also, the overwhelming
expectations thrust on him by no less than Robert Schumann and Hans von
Bulow (the leading music critic of the day) as the successor to Bach
and especially Beethoven contributed an additional huge psychic burden.
Indeed, it is a measure of his genius that Brahms was able to meet and
even exceed these daunting predictions. The reader is referred to Jan
Swafford’s fine biography3 of the composer for a more
complete understanding of Brahms’ personality and life.