The Teaching Company has a set of lectures on Brahms which are mostly biographical and not so musicological as the ones on Bach or Beethoven. I have been listening to these as I am under the spell of Brahms.
Interesting life, the life of Brahms.
Interesting his aesthetic too: the classical forms with romantic expressions, or themes or sensibilities (I’ll have to check and see how the chap put that particular bit as it might be more enlightening than what I’m presently trying to describe, but the idea is that Brahms wanted to contain romantic expressions within the discipline and rigor of classical forms, the lecturer–using terms one cannot, after Lukacs, really find useful descriptions of much of anything–calls it an objective subjectivity. Let this not deter you, he is an energetic lecturer and while fond of some worn expressions, uses them with much enjoyment).
After the lectures one does wish there had been more of a technical musical explanation of the works, but what I had was adequate to increase my appreciation of the mighty Brahms and also to make me think more about his works. Besides, it is not a very technical explanation that soon gets too technical to me. I do not mean—when I say I want to think more—that I want to listen to them more like a musician, but something different I am at present at a loss to explain.
There is in any good work, appreciable whether one can paint or count or recognize other technicalia, something of the human soul which is in view with the end for which the piece was made. And along with this especially, it seems to me, something of the age and the particularity of the universal human condition which are the chief of an artist’s public aims, generally speaking. Not that the technicalia ought to impede any appreciation of this; it is just that sometimes one wonders about the means obscuring the view of the ends.
There, perhaps I have explained it.