Originally Posted by Philidor
That's an extraordinary claim. The Freudians must have a field day! I see the scholars are still fighting over Brahms' nether regions...
Ah, you will note that in my original post I put "no evidence" in italics to draw your attention to it. That is, Brahms COULD HAVE HAD AFFAIRS - who knows how it went with the women's chorus, and he was especially keen on burning half of his correspondence... but, there's no real evidence.
Now if you want to read someone less sensational, you can see Styra Avins's complaints about Swafford's "story telling." She argues that Brahms never played in waterfront bars. Of course, then she offers the possibly-more-bizarre explanation for Brahms's lifelong bachelorhood: he wanted to devote himself entirely to his music. That strikes me as if she's buying the establishment idea about what Brahms was: a priest to his art. How Romantic.
Swaff at least offers a psychoanalytical explanation: JB was scarred for life from the abuse and developed that classic Freudian binary understanding of women - either whores or virgins, and you don't want to mess with either one.
OR perhaps JB was just scarred from the fact that his mother was 17 years older than his father. Or maybe he was gay. But of course there's no evidence for that either. Maybe Maynard Solomon wants to come along and find some obscure reference to peacocks in one of JB's friend's letters...
Last but not least, a friend of mine came up with the theory that when JB was ten and was run over by a carriage (true story), perhaps he was castrated. This friend, a medical student, offered that this would explain everything!
That's the next movie they should produce: Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, the 19th-century Abelard and Heloise!
(And Swaff thinks he's sensationalist?)