Johannes Brahms


Symphony No. 3 (Third Mvt.) (1883)

The Symphony no. 3 was composed in the summer of 1883 and first performed in December of that year. In this symphony, Brahms makes use of his personal motto “Frei aber froh” (free but happy), or in musical terms, F-Ab-F. This is quite different than his earlier musical cipher “Frei aber einsam” (free but lonely) !! No one knows for sure if Brahms was trying to send some sort of message here, as he was famously tight-lipped about his work, although he did remind his friends that “I speak through my music.” An interesting aspect of the Brahms symphonies is how the third movements subtly change from the the “typical” symphonic third movement predecessors inherited from the Beethoven symphonies (with their quick-paced 3/4 time signature) into something quite different and new: each third movement of the collective four Brahms symphonies is unique. My personal favorite is the third movement of this third symphony. It is hardly a fast-paced Scherzo! For comparison, I also include below the jaunty and fastest Scherzo (according to Beethoven’s own metronome markings) of all the Beethoven Symphonies: no. 7. Enjoy both of them!

Brahms: Symphony No. 3 (Third Movement)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 (Scherzo)