Personal Recollections of Johannes Brahms (1907) by George Henschel: The Journal, pp. 52-53, July 18&19 [1876]

July 18.

Yesterday, when, after our usual swim, we leisurely strolled to the Fahrnberg for dinner, a button on Brahms’ shirt suddenly came off. As it was the one which served to hold the collar in its place, Brahms was greatly embarrassed. I proposed to help him out, and we went to my room, where I took out of my valise a little box containing sewing materials which my mother had given me to carry with me when traveling. The amusing situation of my sewing the button on to Brahms’ shirt while he had it on, again recalled memories of his youth. “When I went on my first journey,” he said, laughingly, “my mother also put such a little box into my bag, and showed me how to use its contents. But I remember quite well, when I tore a hole in my trousers, I repaired it with sealing wax! It didn’t last long, though.”

At luncheon, as it was my last day, we again indulged in a bottle of champagne. In the afternoon, the other guests having having partly retired to their rooms, partly gone on excursions, Brahms played the accompaniments to some songs for me. Since our arrival this was the first time that he had touched the keyboard and that I had sung. I began with Brahms’ “Mainacht,” then came a Schubert song, and Beethoven’s cyclus “To the Absent Beloved.” When we had ended we were surprised to find that all of the adjoining rooms had filled with listeners. Mine host of the Fahrnberg was greatly touched, and thanked Brahms for the honor he had done to his house.

In the train to Berlin, July 19.

This morning, at five o’clock, I left Sassnitz. Strangely enough, it again poured in torrents as on the night of my arrival. A horrid, chilly morning. Brahms was up at the Fahrnberg a little before five, and, to my delight, accompanied me in the diligence as far as Lancken, some three miles from Sassnitz. There he got out, we shook hands, and parted. For a long time I looked after him out of the carriage window in spite of the wind and the still pouring rain. It was a picture never to be forgotten. As far as the eye could reach, nothing but moor, and clouds, and – Brahms.


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