Karajan - Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 - I. Allegro non troppo (Part 1)




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Published on Aug 4, 2009

The Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1877 during a visit to the Austrian Alps. Its gestation was brief in comparison with the fifteen years which Brahms took to complete his First Symphony. The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, and strings.

The cheerfulness of the Symphony has been likened with the pastoral mood of Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. In contrast, Brahms' First Symphony was marked by its sombre tonality (C minor).

I. Allegro non troppo

The cellos and double-basses start off the symphony on a tranquil note by introducing the first phrase of the principal theme, which is continued by the horns. The woodwind instruments develop the section and other instruments join in gradually progressing into a full-bodied forte (bar 58). A new theme is introduced in bar 82 in F-sharp minor. After bar 182, the exposition may be repeated from the beginning depending on the conductor and orchestra. After the development section (see sonata form), the recapitulation begins at bar 302, with the second subject arriving at bar 350. Towards the conclusion of the first movement, Brahms marked bar 497 as "in tempo, sempre tranquillo", and it is this mood which pervades the remainder of the movement as it closes in the home key of D major.

The first movement, Allegro non Troppo, is a very interesting movement. It almost seems to be an entire movement based on the variation of the lullaby motive. It is introduced at measure 74 and is continually brought back, shaped and changes both rhythmically and harmonically. An idea that Brahms would constantly play upon is the use of Beethoven extended form. In this movement, we see an expansive exposition that contains many interesting factors; The introduction of the movement is contains several key factors. At the beginning of the movement, we do not actually hear an opening motive, this has been replaced with a with lyrical counterpoint. We see a lyrical line presenting and idea, and then a few measure later, move in contrasting motion. (See example 1.1). What is worthy of note is that, in the exposition of this piece, these lyrical passages act more as type of introduction to the main theme at measure 44. No one idea has yet been introduced and well represented until measure 44. At measure 44, a canon features is used to introduce the new theme. It is, as the name suggest, repeated in several voices.

Many interesting point comes across in this first movement, it is written as a symphonic waltz, it quite uncommon for ¾ time to be used in symphonic works. This was a characteristic that was usually done by Strauss. The development section of this piece is very interesting, it leaves the bright and calm introduction and transitions to a more agitated state. Here we see intense lyricism with thematic variation. This lyricism is portrayed by heavy bass shots with the brass and is driven by the string and woodwinds, and to add a more ominous, he adds in a rolling timpani. This creates the sense of agitation in the listener, not towards the music, but the recapitulation brings back the development; yet, to end this first movement, Brahms then introduces new musical elements into the piece.


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  • Song

  • Artist

    • Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • UMG (on behalf of Deutsche Grammophon (DG)); Public Domain Compositions, Sony ATV Publishing, and 2 Music Rights Societies


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