[ K ] Do You Like Brahms?

When I first noticed ‘Do You Like Brahms?’ trending on Netflix and Viu, my immediate thought was ‘optional’, ‘watch when desperate’. But with so many good offerings, I never really think I would ever be desperate. So why did I succumb in the end? The title.

My first worry was that I would be bored with all the classical music references. I could not have been more wrong.

In case I am losing your interest, let me tell you the juiciest part first – Johannes Brahms was a protege of Robert Schumann but Brahms was in love with Schumann’s wife Clara. Was the illicit relationship ever consummated? Different people have different accounts.

What’s important is that it was complicated and therefore makes interesting fodder for modern interpretations and re-interpretations.

And if you ever want to impress someone, just mention Schumann, Brahms, Clara and unattainable love in one breath.

Coming back to this 2020 Korean drama, using these ready-made ingredients can’t be more ingenious.

Any less confident scriptwriters would have followed everything to a T but not here. The love triangle bears similarities but what’s more important to me is how we are ‘educated’ about the present classical music scene. You can also apply that to the art world, the photography world.

I like how there is a character here at every level of art – the child prodigy forced into playing the violin, fortunately she is rich and talented.

On the other end, a child prodigy who has nothing other than talent. How does he navigate the politics of the moneyed world?

Surprisingly the main character is someone with lots of passion but little talent. She carries her violin everywhere and steals time at lunch to practice. In the dog-eat-dog world, it would be easier for her to give up her real dream of becoming a violinist.

What would be her best career option? To be a concert manager. But then she’s reminded very ruthlessly – how painful it must be to stand in the backstage while watching her classmates from music school bask in the limelight.

Why torture yourself?

But if you really love music, working to support musicians can’t be that bad a thing. Actually no, it is painful.

What you will experience in this brilliant series is a lot of questions asked on behalf of your creative soul – “Do you want enough? Is hard work a possible substitute for the lack of talent? Can music heal? Can you compromise? When do you give up? What do you do when you are on your way out/down?”

I won’t say I found my answers here but I’m glad these questions are asked.

Oh yes, I do like Brahms.