Brahms: the Man and His Music


The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

The music of Brahms combines a deeply romantic impulse with a mastery of musical structure that harks back to his classical forebears. His pungent melodies and rich harmonies ensure his continuing popularity in the concert hall. In this course we will look at Brahms’s life, from humble beginnings to the fame of his later years in Vienna, studying the great works that he composed in almost every genre.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.

Brahms’s early life and career.
Meetings with Reményi, Joachim, Liszt and Schumann.
Early works
Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15
Variations on a theme of Handel, Op.24
Piano Quartet, Op. 25
Early songs

Brahms settles in Vienna
Becomes conductor of the Vienna Singakademie.
Magelone-Lieder, Op. 33
Piano Quintet, Op. 34
3 Sacred Choruses for female voices, Op.37
Waltzes for piano duet, Op. 39
Horn trio, Op. 40
String quartet no. 1, Op. 51, no. 1

Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Becomes Director of Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde.
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.79

Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 83
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Double Concerto, Op. 102

Meeting with Richard Mühlfeld, clarinettist with the Meiningen orchestra
Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115
The late piano pieces, Opp. 116-119
Death of Clara Schumann
Four serious songs, Op. 121
Eleven Chorale Preludes, Op. 122


Description Costs
Programme fee (no accom–incl.lunch and dinner) £1070.00
Programme fee (with single en-suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom and meals) £1380.00


Jonathan Darnborough


JONATHAN DARNBOROUGH is Director of Studies in Music and Departmental Lecturer in Music at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. He is the author of Oxford University’s first two online Music courses.

Miss Claire-Louise Lucas


Claire-Louise Lucas is a professional mezzo-soprano and a part-time music tutor. She lectures on opera and song for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.  She has lectured on singing in conservatoires and other universities in the UK and the USA.

Claire-Louise has performed extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the USA, including an appearance as a soloist in the Salzburg Easter Festival with Maurizio Pollini and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado.  Other recent performances include concerts at Gloucester Cathedral; Christ Church Cathedral; Salisbury Cathedral; Southampton University; the Leominster Festival and the Brighton Festival. 

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Friday, 1 May 2020 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

The fee stated includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available*.

There is also a limited number of standard rooms available, which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but shared bath and toilet facilities. Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room)*.

*If you wish to book a twin en-suite room or a standard twin set room each person should complete an application form and email it to us at as these rooms cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems. Students should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.


If accommodation is unavailable in a particular week, we also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

If you wish to enrol on a non-residential basis please complete an application form and email it to us at as this option cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)