Who knows. I'm probably overthinking it. No work of art speaks to everyone, and some works can't speak to us when we're in certain parts of our life. But when we come to another time, years later, perhaps we find something to love in a book, or a movie that we never liked before, or...a symphony.
So anyway! Brahms's Third. Again, conquering the First over a period of fifteen years seems to have allowed Brahms to make his piece with the symphonic form, as again he managed to write this work in a single summer, revising it a bit after the initial performances. Apparently some partisans of Richard Wagner -- with whom Brahms had a long rivalry, as it became clear that Wagner and Brahms were the two towering forces in the Germanic music tradition in the late 1800s -- tried to interfere with the performance, and duels were threatened. It may seem quaint, now, to look back on all the times classical music was at the heart of violence (would anyone ever riot at a Buffalo Philharmonic performance?), but only a little more than a century ago, this stuff was a big cultural deal.
Here's a fascinating article about the Third, which examines the work in the light of Brahms's friendship with Robert Schumann and his lifelong, unrequited love for his best friend's wife, Clara.
And here is the symphony itself. I'm glad to be able to hear it with better ears.
Next week, the Fourth and final of Brahms's symphonies.