Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in D minor, Opus 15

“The present concert was another one of those occasions in which a new composition was borne to the grave – the concerto by Mr. Johannes Brahms.” This was the opening statement in a review of a performance of Brahms´s First Piano Concerto in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on January 27, 1859. And all of this after Robert Schumann had presented the young Brahms to the musical public in an enthusiastic essay back in 1853, stating: “I thought someone would suddenly come along, would have to come along, one who would not present his mastery in bits and pieces, but rather, like Minerva, would spring completely armored from the brow of Kronon. And he has come. His name is Johannes Brahms. He bears, even outwardly, all the signs that proclaim to us: this man is truly called to the task. Sitting at the keyboard he began unveiling magnificent regions. We were drawn into ever more magical circles. On top of that, we heard a brilliant performance technique that made the piano into an orchestra with lamenting or rejoicing voices.” Brahms felt forced under an incredible pressure of expectation by this essay. And so it took many years for Brahms, in 1857, after long, arduous work, always accompanied by self-doubt, finally to present his first orchestral work, the D minor Piano Concerto to the musical public. The resonance must have been more than discouraging for the 24-year old composer and soloist: “Without any sign of emotion, the people listened to the first and then the second movement. At the end of the third, three hands slowly began to clap, whereupon a clear hissing from all sides put the quietus on this modest demonstration of approval.” And, excusing himself he added: “I’m still experimenting – feeling my way.” Today this experiment impresses us with the immediacy, directness and energy of the young composer.