My things really are written with an appalling lack of practicality!

Could be me, to be honest, but comes from non other than one of the greatest German composers:



Johannes Brahms. The all-time bachelor with a beard and belly so mighty even Santa Clause envies it. More than 200 songs, concert pieces, chamber music, a very mighty requiem and of course his symphonies – four delightful and wholesome pieces I adore like a litter of kittens. Equally. Now that the season of wuthering heights, storms and falling leaves is here; winter just around the corner, it is the perfect time to put on your favourite oversized boyfriend hoodie (no boyfriend required), snuggle up on your couch, enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and switch on Brahms’ Symphonies No. 1-4. What do you hear? For me, it is the wind howling outside. The window lattice rapping, tapping (not above the chamber door). A slight cold draft through the cracks in the wall. And you inside, wrapped in wool, with a hot cocoa in your hands, preferably leaning against the hot tiled oven. You get the picture. THIS, and all this, is what Brahms’ symphonies sounds like to me. Very cosy, very comforting, yet you can sense the discomfort just on the other side of your four walls. But for now, you’re out of harm’s way. You got your hot beverage, you’re all snuggly and cuddly, you feel safe and warm. And you appreciate it – because you are aware of the outside world and its nastiness. I don’t even have to imagine it because that’s exactly what the weather is like tonight. Brrrr. Since I had chocolate brownies today it’s Yogi Glückstee instead of hot chocolate, but apart from that the symphonies are on! Classic Friday night.For me and in musical terms.

Actually, what would fit the occasion ebven better is a chocolate mug of sadness with the best recipe intro story since the dawn of food bloggers:

There’s just something so… sad about chocolate cake for one. In a mug. So… not right. It should not be this easy to make your own cake in the microwave, for one thing. Maybe that’s what bothers me- how close I am to making chocolate cake. Every. Day. Just for myself. Just for myself in my apartment. Using my Sleepless in Seattle mug. Swarmed by cats as I dig in, all hunched over it, wrapped in a shawl I knit for myself. Plucking a stray piece of cat hair off my Chocolate Mug Cake for One. Feeling the thick cake hitting the bottom of my empty, loveless womb.  Waiting for death. So, you know, ENJOY MAKING THIS RECIPE.

Some Kitchen Stories

Alright, with these existential-critical words and edible sadness filling our wombs and nourishing our love handles, let’s focus on Brahms and his rich and romantic oeuvre. As a dedicated french horn player (if only I practiced accordingly) of course one piece of chamber music gets a special mention here:

TRIO FOR HORN, VIOLIN AND PIANO, op. 40, E-flat major

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a life performance with David Pyatt at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, UK. Brahms himself was a french horn bro. Bro, not pro. He explicitely wished for this particular piece to be played on the natural horn (i.e. without valves), due to its “truer” sound. Which brings up back to our title quote: no valves = a nuisance and highly impracticality for modern day horn players. Back in 1865 however, the birthyear of opus 40, no valves was the common practice (literally). According to legend, Brahms wrote it in Baden-Baden, so right around from where I am writing this. It is said, that the beautiful landscape surrounding him was the inspiration for this trio. Or, as a (human) trio from the States I once shared a train cabin with, said it:

Germany is so Bob Ross-esque!

Unfortunately Brahms and BRoss – another proud beard bearer – lived in different eras but at least we get to hear the rossesqueness of Baden-Baden in four movements musically painted on a canvas partitura, capturing blooming nature and black forest romance. Between these and cheerful hunting tunes we find the core and heart of the piece: a poetic and lamenting third movement, Adagio mesto. It resulted from the aftermath of Brahm’s mother’s death – who was an avid French horn fan, too.

I won’t overanalyze and theorize too much. I believe music is best heard and not to be scientifically taken apart. Let it affect you, let your mind wander and your feelings evoked and enjoy the deep and rich sound of Brahms.

♥ ♪♫♫♪ ♥

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