I would argue that the ultimate exercise of the mind in structure lay with Beethoven, who encapsulated and ensconced the widest range of human personality in sometimes the most fragmentary of theme or construction. Brahms was very conservative in style; the polar opposite of the musically grandoise Liszt and Berlioz. Perhaps grandoisity was more de rigueur at the time. Liszt was a pop-sensation equivalent, while Brahms is seen as very academic in nature. I won't even start discussing Wagner and Brahms; the more I learn of Wagner the man, the more I detest him. <P>The path of 19th century music after Beethoven cetainly bifurcated (now that's a word) or 'multi-furcated' into at times seemingly incongruous styles. I don't think anyone could properly compare Satie to Dvorak or Elgar to Liszt. While Brahms was a very good composer, his work is too sombre, and even melodramatic, for me. I'm not well-versed in all his work, but other than his Dances, did Brahms write happy music?