Music of Johannes Brahms Oct. 30

Seth Carlin and Debra Hillabrand join members of St. Louis Symphony for Community Partnership Performance

A string quartet from the St. Louis Symphony will join pianist Seth Carlin, professor of music in Arts & Sciences, and mezzo-soprano Debra Hillabrand, teacher of applied music, for a free concert featuring the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).


Sponsored by the Department of Music and the St. Louis Symphony Community Partnership program, the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, in Washington University’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall.

The symphony string quartet consists of cellist Bjorn Ranheim, violist Kathleen Mattis and violinsts Jooyeon Kong and Shawn Weil.

The program will open with Carlin performing the second of Brahms’ two Rhapsodies, Op. 79. Written in 1879, the Rhapsodies are among the composer’s most significant works for piano and were dedicated to his close friend and former pupil Elisabeth von Herzogenberg. Indeed, it was von Herzogenberg who suggested renaming them “Rhapsodies,” rather than Brahms’ planned title, “Klavierstücke” (piano pieces).

Hillabrand and Mattis will then join Carlin for Two Songs, Op. 91, for mezzo, viola and piano. The composer’s only works for voice, piano and an extra instrument, the Two Songs were written for violinist Joseph Joachim and his wife, the mezzo-soprano Amelie Schneeweiss. The first song (which Brahms later specified should be performed second) was composed in 1863 as a lullaby for the couple’s son, whom they named Johannes in Brahms’ honor. Its companion followed in 1884, and represented the composer’s attempt, sadly unsuccessful, to repair a marital rift.

The program will conclude with Carlin and the symphony string quartet performing the Piano Quintet, Op. 34. Perhaps the most famous example of Brahms’ legendary perfectionism, the Piano Quintet was begun in 1863 as a work for string quintet and two cellos. However, after Joseph Joachim opined that the piece lacked charm, it was rewritten as a sonata for two pianos. The final form — as a quintet for piano and string quartet — was suggested by Clara Schumann, widow of Robert Schumann, and debuted publicly in 1868.

Robert Snarrenberg, associate professor of music, will introduce the performance.

The E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall is located in the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or email

St. Louis Symphony Community Partnership program

Guest musicians for the performance are sponsored by the St. Louis Symphony’s Community Partnerships program, which presents more than 250 free events, concerts and classes each year throughout the greater St. Louis area. For more information about upcoming events, or to find out how you can help, visit the Community and Education section of the St. Louis Symphony website,, or call (314) 286-4432.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Pianist Seth Carlin, mezzo-soprano Debra Hillabrand, cellist Bjorn Ranheim, violist Kathleen Mattis and violinsts Jooyeon Kong and Shawn Weil.

WHAT: Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Community Partnership concert

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30

WHERE: E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection of Trinity and Delmar Boulevard

COST: Free and open to the public

PROGRAM: Music of Johannes Brahms

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5566 or email