Born in Hamburg in a very poor family he worked his way up to become one of the most influential figures in the western classical music. His works include many piano-solo pieces, songs, chamber music, concertos, orchestral works and a requiem.
The texture of the violin sonatas is predominantly song-like in both melody and accompaniment. Especially the first and the second sonata are calm and gentle in the mood. The third has a more symphonic and virtuosic style.
One of the major influences upon Brahms was the violinist Joseph Joachim. Together they had a great friendship and it is known that they had a a period where they exchanged four-voice sketches to improve their counterpoint and harmonic writing. Joachim, not only a violinist but a composer as well helped Brahms greatly with his violin-concerto Op.77 (the first sonata is Op.78). Joachim, the most famous violinist of the late 19th century in Germany, arranged the twenty-one Hungarian dances of Brahms for violin and piano, of which Joachim recorded one in 1903.
The influence that Schumann had on Johannes Brahms can also not be underestimated. Their close friendship and the help that Schumann gave him on the technical part of composing was of great influence on Brahms. Together they also composed, with Ferdinand David, the F-A-E Sonata, of which the Scherzo is being discussed on this website.