The Composer As Inveterate Wiseass

What frequently gets lost in discussions of great classical composers is their actual personality, and in no case is that a greater shame than that of Johannes Brahms. “Cutting irony was a prime Brahmsian mode, and he wielded his wit with special gusto when skewering friends. He was master of the quick putdown… Brahms’ wounding irony, his obliqueness in all things, were part of the armor of a relentlessly private man.”