Collecting for study
Thus for Brahms, the collation of his own testaments to creative endeavour had already become a collection in themselves, not only of music manuscripts, but also those print versions used by the composer during performances and into which he later added corrections and adaptations. He also collected musical first editions – particularly those of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. In the case of Haydn, to whom so many works were wrongly attributed and whose own handwritten transcriptions had in so many cases been lost, questions about authenticity fascinated him, which we are able to identify through the Haydn memorabilia among his collection: What is really from the composer and what was - where identifiable as such – merely attributed to him?
In Brahms’ collection of books we find musical handbooks, bibliophile editions, very many literary works for his reading pleasure or that struck a chord with him. His annotated Baedeker travel guides are as important a part of his collection as the bible editions in which he had marked text passages for his “German Requiem”.
Brahms had carefully retained and stored all the correspondence addressed to him. Some correspondents expressed a wish after his death to recover the letters, as a result of which these items are now either at disparate locations or have been lost. The complete sets of correspondence that do remain, however, provide a fascinating insight into composition projects, the work of Brahms as a composer, conductor and pianist, into his social contacts, his daily life and into many of his business and financial dealings.