Beer and Brahms

In my book, beer and Brahms are soul mates, and since today, April 7, is recognized as National Beer Day, let’s take out our tankards and fill ’em up while recalling Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous remark made in 1933 – the year of my first seeing the light of day –
“I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

But why Brahms, you might well ask? Consider then that the German composer’s Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80 (1880) – conducted here by Franz Welser-Möst with the Cleveland Orchestra – was written to acknowledge an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy conferred on him by the University of Breslau in 1879. He himself conducted the first performance and in the joyful 10-minute work his audience readily recognized several German student songs.

The most important, in order of appearance, are: Wir hatten gebauet ein stattliches Haus (We have built a stately house)in three trumpets; Der Landesvater (Father of his country) in second violins; Was kommt dort von der Hoeh (What comes from there on high?) in bassoons accompanied by violas and cellos; and finally the famous Gaudeamus igitur (Therefore, let us be merry) presented at the conclusions of the overture by the full orchestra.

Since my late teens, Beck’s has been my favorite beer of choice, followed closely by Heineken. During my wanderlust years in Europe, I wouldn’t miss any opportunity of spending many enjoyable pre-luncheon dates with German or Dutch, Danish or Swedish friends, imbibing a stein or two with them.

Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen, Wikipedia

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