Brahms, Johannes (1833 – 1897)

German composer, pianist and conductor. The two composers first came into contact when Dvorak was applying for his second state scholarship awarded to young musicians. At that time the now famous Brahms was one of the committee members who decided on the allocation of the grants. He had a great appreciation for Dvorak’s work from the very beginning and, apart from awarding him the scholarship (which Dvorak received five times in all), he recommended the promising composer to his Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock. The two composers probably met initially on 14 December 1878 during Dvorak’s visit to Vienna; later on Brahms met up with Dvorak in Prague as well. They were good friends from the start (almost certainly influenced by the respect the young composer had for the acclaimed Maestro), a relationship fuelled by mutual admiration and interest in each other’s new works. Dvorak’s correspondence shows that he was extremely fond of Brahms. In turn, Brahms demonstrated his affection for Dvorak by readily agreeing to make corrections to works due for publication while the latter was in the United States. After Dvorak’s return from America Brahms tried to convince him to move to Vienna with his family and even offered him his property if he did so; Dvorak never took up this offer, however. In March 1897 Dvorak travelled to Vienna to visit Brahms, who was terminally ill by then, and a month later he attended his funeral. As if he had come full circle, Dvorak was then appointed member of the jury for the state scholarship award in order to fill the position vacated by Brahms.