Classical Music | Violin Music

Johannes Brahms

Violin sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100  Play

Siwoo Kim Violin
Rachel Kudo Piano

Recorded on 03/29/2017, uploaded on 11/09/2017

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Johannes Brahms was a fan of the rustic elements of Hungarian folk music. Out of the three sonatas, the soft-spoken second sonata has become my favorite. Brahms is often depicted as a gruff titan, but as I’ve gotten to learn more about the composer and his works, I’ve come to realize that his vulnerability is what sets him apart from the pantheon of great composers. This sonata, through intimate conversation, is the epitome of that true side of Brahms.    Notes by Siwoo Kim


 Johannes Brahms      Violin sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100

Brahms spent the summer of 1886 at Hofstetten bei Brienz on Lake Thun in Switzerland. Invigorated by the company of friends and the young German contralto Hermine Spies, he produced three of his most beloved chamber work in rapid succession—the F major Cello Sonata, the Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, and the Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major. This latter work, the shortest yet most demanding of Brahms’s three sonatas for the instrument, is a radiant work with a joyful mood that is never dimmed throughout, reflecting the good spirits of the composer during his vacation. Like the previous G major sonata composed nearly a decade earlier, the A major Sonata is predominantly lyrical and draws some of its material from contemporary Lieder. As with his other sonatas, Brahms also officially titled the work “Sonata for Piano and Violin” instead of “Sonata for Violin and Piano.” Brahms’s choice of word order hearkens back to the traditions of Mozart and Beethoven and emphasizes that the piano and violin are equal collaborators, instead of the dominance of a soloist implied by the latter. Interestingly, the sonata is sometimes referred to as the “Meistersinger” Sonata because of the similarity between the first three notes of the first movement and those of “Walther’s Prize Song” from Richard Wagner’s Der Meistersinger. Though Brahms and Wagner were painted as musical rivals, the war between them was largely fought by their supporters and both men admired the other’s music.


Marked with the somewhat unusual indication of Allegro amabile, meaning fast and loveable, the first movement is relaxed and lyrical, beaming with good cheer. The piano takes the initial lead in setting out the movement’s material. The second subject is developed out of a motif taken from the lied Wie Melodien zieht es mir, a song where the poet compares melodies to the scent of flowers. For the sonata’s middle movement, Brahms achieves the semblance of a larger four-movement structure by combining the roles of Adagio and Scherzo in contrasting sections. The opening Andante tranquillo in F major is contrasted against a D minor Vivace. Each is heard twice before the Andante returns for a third time to evenly round out the movement’s form. However, it is the Vivace that has the final say. Finally, a relaxed and graceful Rondo serves as the sonata’s finale.       Joseph DuBose