Beware the fake Brahms

Beware the fake Brahms


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2015

From the American Brahms Society:


The Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe in Kiel has posted an article detailing the attempted sale of a forged Brahms autograph by the manuscript dealer Inlibris.

At issue is a forged autograph of Brahms’s canon WoO 29, “Wann hört der Himmel auf zu strafen / mit Albums und mit Autographen.”The dealer has since removed the item from sale, but as it has come up for sale several times in the past, the American Brahms Society is assisting our colleagues in Kiel by alerting the Brahms community worldwide to this forgery, hoping thereby to remove it from circulation.

Full details here.

brahms autograph

for reference: this is the forged Brahms



  • John Borstlap says:

    Brahms himself knew something of faking autographs. In 19C Vienna, you could buy cheap french fries at simple stalls in the park, which were mostly wrapped in bits of old newspaper pages, or other scrap paper. In those days, authentic manuscript were still being unearthed, Vienna being a treasure trove of bits of scores indifferently discarded by ignorant people. Once, when Brahms and his friend the musicologist Max Kalbeck both bought something at such stand in the Prater, Kalbeck gradually discovered that his food was wrapped in what seemed to be a Beethoven manuscript. When he, with mounting excitement, unfolded the costly paper, he found Brahms trying to suppress his laughter, and knew he got fooled.

  • PrewarTreasure says:

    I hope this is not too far off topic, but for the benefit of those who have never seen, leave alone handle, an original music manuscript, to coin a phrase, ‘buddy, you ain’t lived’.

    In the days when I would regularly attend Sotheby’s salerooms in London for their thrice annual music manuscript auctions (purchasing the odd, affordable items as and when) on one occasion, thanks to Dr. Stephen Rowe (who at the time was head of the department -maybe he still is) I was allowed to peruse in Stephen’s office, at my leisure, the autographed working manuscript of Wagner’s ‘LOHENGRIN’.

    Turning the bound pages, admiring the beautifully scripted contents in the hand of Wagner was liken to receiving a series of mild electric shocks. My eyes moistened instantly, as they are today, as I jot these few notes twenty five years on.

    I wiould like to share another related memory – if I may be granted space to do so.

    Entering the saleroom this particular morning, 20 minutes or so before the start of the day’s sale, I was bemused to find no less than five huge floodlights located around the periphery of the room (switched off) Beneath each one a video camera on its tripod, with an operator standing by.

    I had never witnessed this before, or since.

    About half way through the the morning session, the auctioneer (Roy Davids, I think it was on that occasion) quietly announced, “Ladies and Gentleman – the Mozart Manuscripts”.

    There was total silence for a few seconds then one by one each floodlight was switched on, and over the ‘Tannoy’ system, quietly, quietly, one of Mozart’s String Quartets…

    I swear there was enough electricity and atmosphere in the room at that moment, to light the whole of London, as Davids whispered, “Shall we start the bidding at two million……….?

  • Styra Avins says:

    I’m very pleased to see this forgery get the exposure it deserves, but PLEASE! where your posting says “for reference: this is the real Brahms”, you have reproduced the forgery!! The genuine autograph is reproduced in the body of the translation. The forgery includes a dedication to a L Kramer [a name unknown to anyone in field], as well as a date in the English or American style, something Brahms never used. The dead giveaway that this is a forgery is the fact that the first note of the Puzzle Canon is missing! Compare it to the genuine article.
    Styra Avins

  • Hank Drake says:

    For a moment I thought you meant this one: