Johannes Brahms


Serenade in D Major for Orchestra


The Serenade No. 1 for Orchestra was composed at the same time Brahms was feverishly working on finishing the Piano Concerto No. 1 (1858). Brahms was acutely aware, as many other composers were, that composing symphonies after Beethoven (who died in 1827) was a daunting task, to put it mildly. Therefore, this 45-minute Serenade can be considered a ‘practice’ work, and it has seven (!) beautiful movements (the sixth of which is heard here). Brahms felt that he could not give the work the exalted name of symphony, yet it contains some of Brahms’s most engaging and rustically cheerful music. The tone of his later orchestral music would be largely sober and monumental, as he believed symphonic music ought to be. In contrast, his two Serenades (1858 and 1859) resound with the spirit of his youth. It took Brahms 21 years to complete his Symphony No. 1 and finally offer it to the public in 1876!

BONUS: Click on the music above to watch the score as you listen to this Scherzo movement.