Fine Art

Brahms with backstory


There's nothing as enticing as a music composition with a deeply personal story behind it — especially when it involves a 30-year friendship damaged by betrayal, a messy divorce and a scathing letter disclosed at a court proceeding. Say, for example, Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello.

The concerto was intended as Brahms' compositional olive branch to a former friend, violinist Joseph Joachim, whom Brahms pushed away by siding with Joachim's wife during the couple's divorce. Four years later, the devastated Brahms wrote the Double Concerto, which he inscribed to Joachim, "To him for whom it was written."

It was his last work written for orchestra, and it was received coolly, gaining popularity only after both men had died. Still, to sit at the private 1887 performance in Baden-Baden, Germany, with Brahms conducting and Joachim performing (or the official premiere in Cologne) must have been exhilarating, even though the pair's friendship never fully mended.


Masterworks III
February 27, 8 p.m., $35-$75.
Artemus Ham Hall, UNLV campus

This weekend, the Las Vegas Philharmonic presents the Double Concerto, featuring concertmaster DeAnn Letourneau and principal cellist Andrew Smith. Also on the program: Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor.

The concerto opens with a dramatic first movement, immediately giving the floor to the cello before violin is presented. The second movement is warmly saccharine. The third is a vibrant, energetic movement with detectable folk melodies.

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