Johannes Brahms Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about composer Johannes Brahms with the help of this lesson plan. They will study a text lesson, take a follow-up quiz, and then participate in three activities that will help to reinforce newly-learned material.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • explain how Johannes Brahms' style differed from that of his contemporaries
  • name some of the greatest works of Johannes Brahms
  • recount important facts from Johannes Brahms' personal life


60-90 minutes


Key Vocabulary

  • Absolute
  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Brahms
  • Lieder
  • Hemiola
  • Hungarian Dances
  • Romantic era

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Instructions - Day One

  • Inform your students that they will be studying the composing legend Johannes Brahms. Display an image of Brahms.
  • Hold up the globe and show the students where Hamburg, Germany, is located (where he was born) and where Vienna, Austria, is located (where many classical musicians studied.)
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson Johannes Brahms: Biography, Music & Facts.
  • Preview the vocabulary terms.
  • Read the introduction and the first section 'A Brief Biography of Brahms.'
    • Where was Brahms born?
    • What were the occupations of his parents?
    • With which three people did he study?
    • What job did he perform to assist his family?
    • At what age did he become a concert pianist?
    • What was his personality like?
    • What was his relationship with Robert and Clara Schumann?
  • Now read the section 'Brahms' Music.'
    • Who were the three Bs?
    • Was Brahms a perfectionist?
    • Why did he consider his music absolute?
    • Was his music similar to his contemporaries?
    • What is a lieder?
    • What is hemiola?
    • Which of his works made the most money?
    • What are some of his vocal pieces?
  • Read the section 'Lesson Summary', review the entire text, and answer any relevant questions.
  • Have students take the lesson quiz to reveal their understanding.

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