Johannes Brahms – Icon
of the Bourgeois World?
Exhibition from 28 January to 16 December 2023
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) is to this day a figurehead of bourgeois music culture. But how bourgeois is the Hamburg-born composer really? The Brahms-Institut at MHL pursues this question in its exhibition »Icon of the Bourgeois World?«. The exhibition provides insights into the bourgeois musical life of his time without which the music by Brahms is difficult to imagine. With his symphonies and large-scale choral works, his intimate songs and chamber music, the Viennese by choice represents both the public music festivals and the private salons. Both are bourgeois counterworlds to the daily routine of work.
With his self-staging, Brahms also steers public reception; photographs, drawings and busts mirror the bourgeois bearing, frequently with a bushy beard, cigar and bow tie. Also his Viennese music room, into which the exhibition provides a glance, is typical for late-nineteenth century interior design. Decorating the walls: a copy of the Sistine Madonna as well as Bismarck in a belauding wreath of laurel and portraits of revered musicians. However, the exhibition also thematises the disjunctures of this environment. For instance, Brahms remains – atypical for a bourgeois biography – a bachelor all his life. Instead of marrying, he cultivates a circle of friends which, in his younger years, shows traits of an effusive-romantic bond of friendship. The central means of communication at the time is the letter, and impressive exhibits mirror the nineteenth-century letter culture.
The exhibition is a revision of the identically titled display last shown 15 years ago. The opening on 28 Janary is marked by a concert in the series »Music in the Museum« at 3 p.m. Pianist Violetta Khachikyan plays works by Brahms, Hensel, Liszt and Mendelssohn Bartholdy. The Institut's director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandberger moderates the concert and afterwards gives a guided tour through the museum.
»Johannes Brahms – Icon of the Bourgeois World?« is open up to and including 16 December 2023 on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Guided tours and additional dates of opening by agreement.
You reach Villa Brahms from the bus stop Adolfstraße (lines 8, 15, 31 and 32; ca. 2 minutes' walk) and with all buses servicing Gustav-Radbruch-Platz (ca. 7 minutes' walk). Parking is possible in the direct vicinity of the Villa. The event and museum locales are accessible barrier-free.
The catalogue to the 2008 exhibition has been published by et+k and can be purchased online, in bookshops and in the Institut during the opening hours.