The Piano Concerto No. 2 in B♭ major, Op. 83, by Johannes Brahms is separated by a gap of 22 years from his first piano concerto. Brahms began work on the piece in 1878 and completed it in 1881 while in Pressbaum near Vienna. It is dedicated to his teacher, Eduard Marxsen. The public premiere of the concerto was given in Budapest on 9 November 1881, with Brahms as soloist, and was an immediate success. He proceeded to perform the piece in many cities across Europe.
The piece is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (B♭), 2 bassoons, 4 horns (initially 2 in B♭ bass, 2 in F), 2 trumpets (B♭), timpani (B♭ and F, A and D in second movement) and strings. (The trumpets and timpani are used only in the first two movements, which is unusual.)
The piece is in four movements, rather than the three typical of concertos in the Classical and Romantic periods:
- Allegro non troppo (B♭ major)
- Allegro appassionato (D minor)
- Andante (B♭ major—F♯ major—B♭ major)
- Allegretto grazioso—Un poco più presto (B♭ major)
The additional movement results in a concerto considerably longer than most other concertos written up to that time, with typical performances lasting around 50 minutes. Upon its completion, Brahms sent its score to his friend, the surgeon and violinist Theodor Billroth to whom Brahms had dedicated his first two string quartets, describing the work as "some little piano pieces." Brahms even described the stormy scherzo as a "little wisp of a scherzo."