Johannes Brahms was born on May 7th 1833 in Hamburg, Germany.
His father Johann Jakob, a double bass player in the Hamburg city orchestra, taught Johannes piano from the age of seven. With additional tutoring by Otto Cassel and Eduard Marxsen, Brahms’ talent on the piano developed quickly. He earned money in his youth by performing at local taverns.
At the age of 20, he travelled to Dusseldorf to meet Robert and Clara Schumann. The two were so deeply impressed by the composer’s musical abilities that, after taking Brahms into their household, Robert, shortly before being committed to an insane asylum, wrote glowingly in an article in which he praised the talents of the “young eagle”.
Considered the un-appointed heir of the mantle left by Ludwig van Beethoven, Brahms feared the standard set by the great composer would be too much to overcome in his own work. Brahms published his First Symphony in C minor, with the help of the continuous encouragement by Clara Schumann, at the age of 43, some 20 years after its initial inception. He went on to write three more symphonies throughout the remaining years of his life.
Today, Brahms is most recognized by his set of Hungarian Dances, most specifically his Hungarian Dance No. 5.
Johannes Brahms died of liver cancer on April 3rd 1897 in Vienna, Austria at the age of 63.