Among the 19th-century’s numerous musical skirmishes, one of the more waspish has to be that between Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. It didn’t help that they were cast on opposite sides in the famous War of the Romantics, but it’s fair to say that the anointed representatives of the musical future never got on.

Over the years there were several frosty, if at least polite encounters, and behind the scenes a great deal of private lampoons...

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