This is the first in a series of ‘piano presentations’ that I will be doing on iconic orchestral moments.
There is a sense in which Brahms was stepping into the ring with this symphony, taking on the all-time symphonic heavyweight, Beethoven. People were full of expectation. Could he say anything after the might of Beethoven’s Ninth?
He could, and this powerful opening gesture to his first movement is full of defiance and drama.
I look at three factors which lie behind this power, and here’s an orchestral version to listen to afterwards: