Johannes Brahms / Theodore Kirchner
Piano Trio in B flat Major
Authorized Arrangement by Brahms of his String Sextet No.1, Op.18
"Not I, and certainly no one else, can make arrangements of my works as well as Theodore Kirchner"---Johannes Brahms
Theodore Kirchner (1823-1903) was widely considered to be the finest arranger of his time. When Brahms noted that Kirchner could make better arrangements of his works than he could himself, he was not merely giving Kirchner a compliment. He was stating what was a very well-known fact.
But the question arises---why did Brahms want an arrangement of his String Sextets and several other of his works. The answer is simple--to make them more widely available. A string sextet, by its very nature requiring six players, was less likely to receive a performance or be played by amateurs than a work for three, not to mention a work for a much more popular ensemble, the piano trio. Making such arrangements was a common practice. However, it was usually undertaken by the publisher and often without the composer's consent.
However, this arrangement, which must be considered one of the very best ever made of a famous work, was not only authorized by Brahms himself, it was requested by him. He asked Kirchner to do it for him. This arrangement is only one of several that Kirchner did for Brahms and during the last part of the 19th and first decades of the 20th, this arrangement was actually both more popular and more frequently performed in concert than the original! This arrangement not only entirely retains the character of the original but provides an added dimension.
Today, this extraordinarily fine arrangement has all but disappeared. By making it available once again, we hope to remedy this situation.