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Brahms’s piano quintet, op.34, and duo-piano sonata, op.34bis : a critical study Lamberton, Elizabeth Jean


Brahms's Duo-Piano Sonata and Piano Quintet in F minor, Opp. 34bis and 34, are respectively the second and third versions of an archetypal concept which the composer had originally expressed as a String Quintet (now lost). Significant evidence of Brahms's creative process is to be found in the extant manuscripts of the two transcriptions: the working draft of Op. 34bis, the copyist's manuscript of the same (corrected by Brahms), and the autograph of Op. 34. The following original printed sources have been available for comparison with these manuscripts: the second issue of the first edition of Op. 34bis (published by J. Melchior Rieter-Biedermann circa January 1872), and both the Erstdruck and the third issue of the first edition of Op. 34 (brought forth by the same publisher in December 1865). This study unravels the history of the original Quintet and of the two transcriptions, and examines the extant manuscripts in order to gain insight into Brahms's creative process. All of the information pertinent to the history of the three works has been retrieved from the correspondence between Brahms and his various friends. The chronology of revisions made by Brahms and others in the extant manuscripts has been determined for the first time. To supplement the examination of the creative process as evidenced in the manuscripts, this author has presented the revised first movement of Op. 34bis and of Op. 34 (based upon the Rieter-Biedermann editions). The study of the extant manuscripts has revealed Brahms's constant efforts to improve his initial creative impulses. In addition to making refinements in sonority and expression, he executed some important alterations in themes and accompanimental material. His continual re-evaluation of these works was stimulated not only by his own artistic convictions, but by external factors such as criticisms solicited from his friends, varying instrumental sonorities, and the impending performance and publication of each work.

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