Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1833. He was one of the major composers of the 19th century, whose works combined the best of the classical and romantic schools. He first studied violin and cello with his father, a double bass player for the Hamburg opera. Brahms became a talented pianist: he gave his first public recital at the age of fourteen and made his living by playing in dance halls and taverns.
In 1853, Brahms went on tour with Eduard Remenyl, a Hungarian violinist. During this tour, Johannes met Franz Liszt. Brahms, however, never became personally friendly with Liszt. On the same tour, Brahms met Joseph Joachim, who in turn introduced him to Robert Schumann. Schumann had a huge impact on Brahms' musical career. Schumann called Brahms the "coming genius of German music." He was so impressed by Brahms unfinished compositions that he wrote a raving magazine article about them. Schumann then arranged for the publication of Brahms first songs and piano sonatas. When Schumann suffered a nervous collapse and tried to commit suicide, Brahms rushed to Dusseldorf to be by Clara's side (Shumann's wife). His motives were those of a loyal friend, by he soon fell in love with her. She greatly valued Brahms support, but kept him at a proper distance. In 1856, Schumann died. Brahms remained a good friend with his wife Clara until she died in 1896. Brahms never married.
After being rejected for a post as conductor in Hamburg, Brahms visited Vienna and made a home for himself there in 1868. Although he earned a good income from publishers and from playing and conducting his works, Brahms always lived frugally. He lived simply in modest lodgings; enjoyed his food but was not extravagant; his clothes were out of fashion and often untidy, yet always clean.
His choral work in Vienna prepared him for a famous piece called the German Requiem, which was based on biblical texts rather than the Roman Catholic requiem mass....