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Serenade No. 2 in A major

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Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (ed. Derek Smith)

Subtitle: For Woodwinds and Saxophones

This work bears the designation Opus 16.

General Info

Year: 1859 / 1875 / 2012
Duration: c. 28:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Winds and strings
Publisher: Maecenas Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - £56.00   |   Score Only (print) - £19.50

Movements (may be performed separately)

1. Allegro moderato (A major)
2. Scherzo. Vivace (C major) – Trio (F major)
3. Adagio non troppo (A minor, ends in A major with a Picardy third)
4. Quasi menuetto (D major) – Trio (F♯ minor)
5. Rondo. Allegro (A major)


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III (III doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
A Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone I-II
E-flat Baritone Saxophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Brahms was extremely cautious about his publications, taking a long 20 years to finish his first full symphony while using his serenades and Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 as compositional practice to allow himself to live up to the serious and great work of Beethoven. The reception of Brahms’ Serenade No. 1 in D, Op. 11 was a huge success, but it was also seen as a piece that was a bit too conservative for his known characteristics -- often criticized as ‘un-Brahmsian’ in retrospect.

In contrast, Serenade No. 2 in A Major, Op. 16 (1860) revealed the warmth and gracious melodies immediately recognizable as the ‘real Brahms’. This serenade was the first piece that Brahms wrote for the sound of an orchestra in mind, utilizing this moment to develop his string writing techniques that he would need to later write his first symphony. Both of the serenades were the work of a young man gaining experience writing for orchestra and learning about large-scale classical form, bridging the gap between his early compositional stages and his full maturity that would be realized and well-known in Vienna.

The second serenade, which has melodic ideas that are reminiscent of Mozart, embodies the conservative side of Romantic composers during that time. Originally scored for winds and strings, Brahms composed Serenade No. 2 in A Major by writing five movements, making sure no one would mistake the work for a symphony. Interestingly, the second serenade excludes violin from its orchestration, resulting in a darker sound and the main melodic material being given to the winds -- essentially creating a wind serenade with string accompaniment. This scoring gave heavy emphasis to the writing for winds, stressing the ties that it has to Mozart’s great wind serenades. Clara Schumann was the first person that Brahms shared his second serenade with, and after seeing the composition, she noted that Brahms was living up to the late Robert Schumann’s hopes for him as a composer.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 15 April 2021


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Wind Symphony Woodwinds (John R. Stewart, conductor) - 13 May 2021
  • Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Wind Symphony (Bruce Moss, conductor) - 16 April 2021
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 15 April 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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