From Library Journal
Avins, a cellist and musicologist at Drew University, has filled a conspicuous lacuna in Brahms scholarship, as no general collection of Brahms's letters had ever before been translated into English. Avins, who completed the editing of this massive tome in time for the centennial of Brahms's death, acknowledges at the outset that the composer was a reluctant letter-writer. Among the 564 letters in this volume, one will not find passages of great literary beauty, nor are there profound exegeses on the nature of aesthetics. Letters, for Brahms, were for the most part utilitarian, and he destroyed many that he considered too personal and revealing. Nonetheless, his distinctive personality shines forth in each one?gruff and impatient (with violinist Joachim and his publisher Simrock), gracious and humble (with Clara Schumann), good-natured and jovial (again to Joachim, now in a better mood). Avins has arranged the letters into eight chronological sections, and her prefaces to each, in addition to her extensive footnotes and commentary, help to provide the needed context. In the process, certain durable legends about Brahms?the shy teen playing piano in the brothels of Hamburg, for example?are neatly debunked. This is a work that will thrill Brahms fans and provide much pleasure for those entertained by the personal correspondence of great artists. Recommended for general and academic libraries.?Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"...this is the first comprehensive selection to appear in English....a readably translated collection spanning Brahms's entire adult life and encompassing the widest circle of his friends and acquaintances, puts Anglophone readers in closer contact with the composer, and deeply in [Avins'] debt....[a] delightful and absorbing book. It is going to become an absolutely central work of reference."--BBC Music Magazine
"A valuable contribution to Brahms scholarship....Remarkably direct and clear, the translations of Brahms' own words ought to lead to many new avenues of research. An excellent choice for all academic collections."--Choice
"Richly informative."--The Sunday Times (London)
"Even if Ms. Avins had merely presented these 564 letters...with only a few footnotes, she would have performed a great service....But she has done more than that. She has provided a thoroughly researched, well-thought-out and abundantly annotated continuity that places each letter in its context....This biography-cum
-autobiography will give great pleasure to lay readers as well as specialists."--The Wall Street Journal
"There are many gems here...much to be gleaned from what Avins has selected....Those who seek to be on more intimate terms with Brahms and his circle...will find much to pore over in this collection."--Los Angeles Times