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Video on demand: Concert Club: The War of the Romantics

The Bachtrack Concert Club is a series of videos personally curated by our editors, who hand-picked pieces from the fantastic performances in our on-demand archive.

Our German editor Elisabeth Schwarz chose two Romantic masterpieces.

Tchaikovsky - Violin Concerto

Brahms - Third Symphony

"What a giftless bastard!" Although Tchaikovsky was not directly participating in “The War of the Romantics”, an aesthetic ‘disagreement’ between supporters of a more conservative musical structure, such as Brahms and Clara Schumann, and members of the New German School, prominently represented by Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt, he was clearly not a big fan of Brahms’ work.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Johannes Brahms share a birthday (seven years apart), but “it would be difficult to find two men more unlike” - Anna Brodsky recalls in her book Recollections Of A Russian Home. “Tchaikovsky, a nobleman by birth, had something elegant and refined in his whole bearing and the greatest courtesy of manner. Brahms with his short, rather square figure and powerful head, was an image of strength and energy.” Musically, Brahms preferred absolute music, while Tchaikovsky was arguably a master across all genres, including opera and ballet.

Unlike Tchaikovsky, I adore Brahms. The Poco allegretto of his Third Symphony, his autumnal clarinet works, and especially the opening movement of his Fourth Symphony. But listen and decide for yourself which composer you prefer, or, love them both. Our Russophile English editor and I will surely have a little battle going on tonight…

- Elisabeth Schwarz

Recorded at Concertgebouw: Main Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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