Brahms’s correspondence reveals that he was very fond of railroad travel; nowadays he might be called a railfan.
In an 1881 letter to George Henschel, Brahms noted that he was spending the summer in the Viennese suburb of Pressbaum, observing that “I shall be only a short distance by rail, which, however, I always travel with great pleasure.”
Advising his father on taking a train to visit him in 1867, the composer wrote:
“Before you travel the night through, as is practical in the heat, drink a glass of grog so you sleep well. But take along very little, for example no scruffy things for the trip! No cigars, nothing that is taxable.”
This according to “Johannes Brahms and the railway: A composer and steam” (The American Brahms Society newsletter XXX/1 [Spring 2012] pp. 1–4). Below, the EuroCity 177 “Johannes Brahms” leaves Ústí nad Labem.
Dvořák had tremendous admiration for technical inventions, particularly locomotives—in the U.S. he might be called a railfan.
“It consists of many parts, of so many different parts, and each has its own importance, each has its own place,” he wrote. “Even the smallest screw is in place and holding something! Everything has its purpose and role and the result is amazing.”
“Such a locomotive is put on the tracks, they put in the coal and water, one person moves a small lever, the big levers start to move, and even though the cars weigh a few thousand metric cents, the locomotive runs with them like a rabbit. All of my symphonies I would give if I had invented the locomotive!”
This according to Antonín Dvořák: Komplexní zdroj informací o skladateli / A comprehensive information source on the composer, an Internet resource created by Ondřej Šupka. Many thanks to Jadranka Važanová for her discovery and translation of this wonderful quotation.
Today is Dvořák’s 170th birthday! Below, the EuroCity 77 “Antonin Dvorak” leaving Prague for Vienna.
Related article: Johannes Brahms, railfan