This music is too hard

In 1862 Brahms went to Vienna:

Although he been in Vienna only a few weeks, Brahms was already making a name for himself.  After the first performance of  his First Serenade, Hanslick wrote more favorably, calling the work “one of the most charming of modern compositions.”

A few months later, the leading Viennese orchestra played the Second Serenade.  Though this was even better liked than the First, it caused a minor riot in the orchestra.  The musicians complained that the work was much too difficult.  At the final rehearsal, a clarinetist rose suddenly from his seat.

“This music is no good to play,” he said defiantly.  And a number of other nodded their agreement.

Concertmaster Hellmesberger looked around in high indignation.  The conductor, who was one of Hellmesberger’s friends, rapped sharply with his baton.  “”Gentlemen, gentlemen, what does this mean?” He fixed the clarinetist with a stern eye.  “Am I the leader of this orchestra, or are you?”

The rebellious player still stood his ground.  Conductor Dessoff laid down his baton and stepped from the podium. “Very well, then, I resign.”

“And I too,” cried Hellmesberger.

“And I,” echoes the first flute player.

Listening from the back of the hall, Brahms shivered in his seat.  The situation threatened to become serious.  However, the firm stand of Dessoff and Hellmesberger eventually convinced the men that they had better go on.

The final performance of the Serenade was such a success that the players forgot their resentment over its difficulties.

Source: Goss, Madeleine & Schauffler, Robert (1943) Brahms The Master. New York: Henry Holt and Company, p.182-183.