Brahms: The Man and His Music


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, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Please note that OUDCE reserves the right to alter course content and/or cancel field trips in accordance with government guidance.

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
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1070.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments (and refunds) are subject to exchange rates at the time of processing.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date

Cancellations and refunds

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2021 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2021 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2021 - no refunds will be made.

Important note: You need to take out travel insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs.


Jonathan Darnborough

Jonathan Darnborough is a professional composer and pianist and is the Director of Studies in Music for OUDCE.

Miss Claire-Louise Lucas

Claire-Louise Lucas is a professional mezzo-soprano and is a tutor for OUDCE.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2021.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:


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.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

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.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.