The more I’ve been reading about Brahms the more I think his music is a fine fit for Hye Won’s personality.
Brahms’ music was not known to be emotionally demonstrative. His music was a throwback to the Classical form and wasn’t considered fashionable at all at the time. His music was a touch mysterious, inscrutable, and he embodied what one biographer calls “pure music, beyond storytelling and beyond autobiography.”
To me, if Hye Won had a favourite composer, it might be Brahms. I think Brahms would appeal to her intellect and her exacting mind. And I think especially in the years after she had to stop playing aggressively, she’d appreciate the lack of flashiness and excess.
Brahms the man was very private, shy and developed a reputation for being the grumpy, boorish greybeard. When he met the Schumanns though, he was a young blonde blue-eyed rising star, who it’s not difficult to imagine, was totally enamoured by them.
He never married, but Clara Schumann was the love of his life. Clara was a superstar, a pianist and a composer, and resented putting her career on hold when she married Richard Schumann. When he tried to kill himself and was committed, she threw herself back into work and that’s when Brahms basically took over managing the household, becoming part of the family.
Brahms and Clara exchanged many letters throughout their forty-year-long relationship and he valued her opinion of his work. We don’t know whether she reciprocated his love because she burned many of those letters (which to me suggests she had something to hide, isn’t it?). In a letter to her daughter, she described their relationship as "the most beautiful mutual understanding of two souls”, which I think says it all.
The Opus 118, from which the encore that Sun Jae dedicates to Hye Won comes (the No. 2), was Clara’s favourite from among his last piano works. It’s not hard to see why. They are small, contemplative pieces and a touch melancholic. The No 2 is in particular, achingly warm and tender. It was written during his last years as an old man deeply affected by the loss of many of his loved ones.
Fittingly, she played some of the Op 118 for him the last time they met in her home in 1895, six months before she died.
Her school friends liked to read aloud the romantic parts in their favorite books, swooning over them together every day during lunch.
i did this exact same thing with all of my friends when i was like, 12!