Berlin: N. Simrock [PN 8028], 1878. Folio. Half dark red leather with marbled boards, titling gilt to spine. 1f. (title), 3-71 printed music, [i] (blank) pp. Engraved. With small music seller's handstamp (Novello, Ewer & Co., London) to lower margin of title page.
Extensively annotated in an unidentified hand in English, in pencil. The notes are not performance-related but, rather, comment on the music, either analyzing it or comparing it with other works and composers. The timpani are consistently referred to as "drums." The annotator was likely a writer on music (musicologist or critic) of British origin.
At the beginning of the work: "1st p[er]formed Phil[harmonic] Soc[iety] Vienna Xmas Eve 1877. 1st played in Eng[land] C.P. 1878. No C[orno] I[nglese] but Bass Tuba. This sym[phony] is less sombre than the c-min[or] (no. 1) & has less of conflict. Subjects (except of Adagio) more marked & easily intelligible - working more varied. - Still the motto is 'Res severa est verum gaudium.' "
At the beginning of the second movement: "This is more complicated & meditative."
At the beginning of the third movement: "This was encored at 1st p[er]form[an]ce in Vienna. Virtually a scherzo. Note quintet of woodwind. Note G Horn now rarely used."
At the beginning of the fourth movement: "(Allegro con Spirito) Marking of Finale is in favour with Haydn & Mozart but rarely used by Beet[hoven]. 'Con brio' is his usual term. This move[men]t is in the spirit of the above old masters."
Finale, letter O: "Note masterly coda founded on 2ds t[heme] & triplet episode."
Light browning to edges; scattered foxing. In very good condition overall.
First Edition. McCorkle p. 311. Hofmann p. 156-157. Fuld p. 553. Sonneck Orchestral Music p. 55.
"The Second Symphony in D op.73, composed less than a year after the completion of the First, is often described as its sunny counterpart. The work indeed radiates a warmth and tunefulness absent in parts of the earlier work. But as Brahms himself acknowledged, the Second Symphony also has a ‘melancholy’ side. The lyrical opening theme of the first movement unravels almost at once into a dark passage for timpani and trombones. The voice of melodic continuity is reasserted often in this movement, however, first by the violin melody that follows the unravelling and again by the second group and the large coda. The pensive slow movement, in B major and in a modified sonata form, is dominated by a motivically rich, metrically ambiguous main theme remarkable for its combination of tunefulness and developing variation."
"The second half of the symphony distinctly brightens in mood, although it too contains sombre moments – often involving the trombones – that evoke the expressive world of the first two movements. The Allegretto recasts the traditional scherzo–trio alternation into a rondo-like structure that is one of Brahms's most original creations. Although the finale ends the symphony in a jubilant blaze of D major, it glances back at the mood of the earlier movements, especially in the haunting passage at the end of the development section (whose chains of descending 4ths Mahler recalled in his First Symphony) and in the syncopated episode for brass in the coda." George S. Bozarth and Walter Frisch in Grove Music Online. Item #26770
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