Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was born on May 7, 1833, in Hamburg. Like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and many others, his father was a musician. Although Brahms’s formal training did not extend beyond elementary school, his father made sure that he got the best possible education in music. He had excellent piano teachers and he diligently studied the works of the masters of the classical era. While still a young man, Brahms helped his family financially by playing popular dance music on the piano in brothels and bars in Hamburg. In 1862, like so many composers before him, Brahms moved to Vienna to pursue his career in music. Brahms was a very conservative composer compared to most other romantics. While many of his peers were stretching musical forms beyond recognition, he always stayed within the bounds of classical structures like theme and variations, rondo, and sonata form. Also, while most romantic composers were writing programmatic works — compositions that represent a story, thing, or idea through music — Brahms was only composing absolute music — music written for the sake of music. Brahms composed four monumental symphonies and several other great works for orchestra. He also wrote extensively for solo piano and for voice. He did not compose any operas. In 1890 Brahms had decided to retire from composing, but the following year he heard the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld (1856-1907) perform a concert. He was so impressed with Mühlfeld that he immediately returned to work. The result of his efforts included four outstanding chamber works featuring the clarinet.