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Johannes Brahms: A Guide to Primary and Secondary Resources at the Library of Congress

Letters and Correspondence

The sections on this page highlight correspondence to, from, and about Johannes Brahms.

How to Find Brahms Letters

The Music Division holds over 200 items of Brahms's handwritten correspondence. Although the majority of the items are letters written by Brahms to others, also included are a number of handwritten postcards and nearly 50 letters written to him. Most—but not all—of the Music Division's Brahms correspondence has been scanned and made available to view and download in the Music Treasures Consortium Digital Collection.

Highlighted Manuscript Correspondence

In addition to several unidentified recipients, individuals to whom Brahms wrote letters found in the Music Division's collections are:

  • Max Abraham
  • Adolf Brodsky
  • Eduard Hanslick
  • Max Kalbeck
  • Robert Keller
  • Hermann Levi
  • Rudolph von der Leyden
  • Carl Reiss
  • P.J. Simrock
  • Friedrich [Fritz] Simrock
  • Edward Speyer
  • Philipp Spitta
  • Ferdinand Vetter

The Music Division's most significant amount of Brahms correspondence is a collection of 121 letters between Brahms and the orchestral conductor Hermann Levi that were acquired through the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation.

Some of the most illuminating Brahms correspondence in the Music Division's collections consists of over 30 letters between Brahms and the music editor for Simrock, Robert Keller. Letters of particular interest for their rich detail concerning Brahms's thoughts on his own music are:

Request and view letters that have not been scanned in the Performing Arts Reading Room.

Correspondence Concerning Brahms

Correspondence neither to nor from Brahms but between people who knew him personally demonstrates the breadth of the Music Division's collections. Examples of this correspondence are:

Search for additional correspondence using the Library's Finding Aids Tool, which searches across multiple finding aids.

Published Brahms Correspondence

Much of Brahms's correspondence has been transcribed, annotated, and published. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available. They offer a representative, but not exhaustive, list of modern publications of this correspondence.