Ballades, Op. 10 (Brahms)

The Ballades, Op. 10, constituted some of the finest examples of lyrical piano music written by Johannes Brahms during his youth. They were dated 1854 and dedicated to his friend Julius Otto Grimm. Their composition coincided with the beginning of the composer's lifelong (but chaste) affection for Clara Schumann, the wife of the famous composer who was helping Brahms launch his career.

The ballades are arranged in two pairs of two, the members of each pair being in parallel keys. The first ballade was inspired by a Scottish poem "Edward" found in a collection "Stimmen der Völker" compiled by Johann Gottfried Herder. It is also one of the best examples of Brahms's bardic or Ossianic style; its open fifths, octaves, and simple triadic harmonies are supposed to evoke the sense of a mythological past.

  • No. 1 in D minor. Andante
  • No. 2 in D major. Andante
  • No. 3 in B minor. Intermezzo. Allegro
  • No. 4 in B major. Andante con moto

Brahms returned to the wordless ballade form in writing the third of the Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118. His opus 75 duets are also ballades, including a setting of the poem "Edward" -- the same that inspired Op. 10, no 1.

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