The Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, is a work for piano and orchestra completed by Johannes Brahms in 1858. The composer gave the work's public debut in Hannover, the following year. It was his first-performed orchestral work, and (in its third performance) his first orchestral work performed to audience approval.
This concerto is written in the traditional three movements and is approximately 40 to 50 minutes long.
- Maestoso (D minor)
- The first movement is in sonata form, divided into five sections: orchestral introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda. This movement is large, lasting between 20 and 25 minutes. This strict adherence to forms used in the Classical Period earned Brahms a reputation for being musically "conservative". The theme heavily makes use of arpeggiated chords and trills. Within the orchestral introduction other themes are introduced, and the thematic material is further developed by both orchestra and soloist.
- Adagio (D major)
- This movement is in a ternary form, with the theme being introduced by bassoon.
- Rondo: Allegro non troppo (D minor → D major)
- The structure of the Rondo finale is similar to that of the rondo of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3. There are three themes present in this rondo; the second theme may be considered a strong variation of the first. The third theme is introduced in the episode but is never explicitly developed by the soloist, instead the soloist is "integrated into the orchestral effect". A cadenza follows the bulk of the rondo, with an extensive coda that develops the first and third themes appearing afterward. The coda is in the parallel major, D major.
The piece is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (B♭ and A), 2 bassoons, 4 horns (initially 2 in D, 2 in B♭ bass), 2 trumpets (D), timpani (D and A) and strings.