Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Chapter 3 - Vienna

from Part I - Personality, People and Places


Brahms arrived in Vienna as an ambitious young musician, settled there in his early thirties and remained for the rest of his life. His flourishing career mirrored the dramatic transformation of the Habsburg Empire and its vibrant capital city during this period. Recent studies about creativity illuminate the historical, geographic and demographic circumstances that converged in late nineteenth-century Vienna to forge its special character. This chapter will explore the city where Brahms spent his most productive and influential decades, highlighting the unique opportunities the city and its intellectual elite provided to stimulate his greatest creative accomplishments.

Long an important crossroads of Europe, Vienna in the last half of the nineteenth century evolved rapidly as an urban metropolis and musical capital. Its population swelled nearly fourfold between 1857 and 1900, largely due to in-migration from farther reaches of the Habsburg Empire.

Biba, O., ‘Brahms in Wien’, in Floros, C., Marx, H. J. and Petersen, P. (eds.), Brahms und seine Zeit: Symposium Hamburg 1983 (Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 1984), 259–71
Botstein, L., ‘Time and Memory: Concert Life, Science, and Music in Brahms’s Vienna’, in Frisch, W. and Karnes, K. C. (eds.), Brahms and His World, 2nd edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 322
Karnes, K., Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History: Shaping Modern Musical Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
McColl, S., Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896–1897 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)
Musgrave, M., ‘Years of Transition: Brahms and Vienna 1862–1875’, in Musgrave, M. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Brahms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 3150
Schorske, C. E., Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York: Vintage Books, 1981)