New Book: Rethinking Brahms, edited by Nicole Grimes and Reuben Phillips

The Department of Music is pleased to announce the publication of a new book, Rethinking Brahms, edited by Nicole Grimes and Reuben Phillips, and published by Oxford University Press. The book features chapters by two core faculty members in the Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Music Program: Dr. Nicole Grimes and Dr. David Brodbeck. Rethinking Brahms is a significant research output of the conference “The Intellectual Worlds of Johannes Brahms” hosted at UCI in February 2019.

As one of the most significant and widely performed composers of the nineteenth century, Brahms continues to command our attention. Rethinking Brahms counterbalances prevailing scholarly assumptions that position him as a conservative composer (whether musically or politically) with a wide-ranging exploration and re-evaluation of his significance today. Drawing on German- and English-language scholarship, it deploys original approaches to Brahms’s music and pursues innovative methodologies to interrogate the historical, cultural, and artistic contexts of his creativity. Empowered by recent theoretical work on form and tonality, it offers fresh analytical insights into his music, including a number of corpus studies that interrogate the relationships between Brahms and other composers, past and present. 

The book brings into sharp focus the productive tension that exists between the perceived fixedness of musical texts and the ephemerality of performance by considering how historical and modern performers shape established understandings of Brahms and his music. Rethinking Brahms invites the reader to hear familiar pieces anew as they are refracted through historical, artistic, and philosophical prisms. Bringing us up to the present day, it also gives sustained attention to the resounding impact of Brahms's compositions on new music by exploring works by recent composers who have engaged deeply with his oeuvre. Combining awareness of overarching contexts with perceptive insights into Brahms's music, this book enlivens our understanding of Brahms, providing a dynamic, multifaceted, complex, and invigoratingly fresh portrait of the composer.

Posted Date: 
Monday, November 7, 2022