avoiding the abyss
Because Brahms was the very first neo-Classicist, and wasn't about to go about introducing those instruments Berlioz and Wagner were so enamored of into his scores.
Because in school young Johannes had a failed relationship (very ugly breakup) with the very first female English Hornist. As revenge, he burned the only manuscript copy of his revolutionary Twelve-Tone Concerto in 14 Randomized Movements for English Horn and Theremin, and decided to compose only in established forms for the rest of his life.
Can I amend my response? I want to second Blake's answer!!
i think blake might be on to something . . .
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