May 07, 1833 – April 03, 1897
Johannes Brahms was born in 1833 in the German city of Hamburg. His father was a musician who played several instruments. Brahms loved music, too. By the time he was six, he’d invented his own system for writing notes down on a page. Of course, he took instrument lessons, learning to play cello, horn, and piano. By the time he was ten, he was such a good pianist that he performed in public, as part of a chamber music concert. Brahms also loved books and read everything he could find including novels, poetry, and folk tales.
When Brahms was older, he toured as an accompanist, playing piano for a Hungarian violinist. That music — and the gypsy bands Brahms heard later on when he traveled to Hungary — inspired his Hungarian Dances, which were a hit with the public. He wrote 21 dances in all. The most famous one is the Hungarian Dance No. 5.
Many people considered Brahms to be the successor to Beethoven. For a long time, he didn’t want to write a symphony, because he was afraid his work would not be as good as Beethoven’s. Brahms ended up writing four symphonies, plus pieces in every musical form except opera. You may know one of his most famous pieces, the Lullaby.
In fact, Brahms became so famous, he is now known as one of the 3 B’s — Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms — of classical music.