I’ll be honest – I had been eyeing this one for a few weeks now and became compelled to recap the drama after finishing the first episode. It seems like a show that I’m gonna want to keep watching and with one of my favorite Korean actresses, Park Eun-bin, as the lead, I couldn’t say no (at least to the first episode).
‘Do You Like Brahms?’ stars Park Eun-bin as Chae Song-ah, a 29-year old who dreams of pursuing music and playing the violin, but grows conflicted when she realizes that her dreams and wishes clash with reality. Kim Min-jae plays the male lead, Park Joon-young, an elite pianist with many competitions and wins under his belt. Park Ji-hyun (My Secret Terrius) and Kim Sung-cheol (Prison Playbook, To.Jenny) round out the cast as the second leads, respectively.
Do You Like Brahms Episode 1: Träumerei, Dream
The episode starts off with Chae Song-Ah (Park Eun-bin) celebrating with her friends, Kang Min-sung (Bae Da-bin) and Yoon Dong-yoon (Lee You-jin) and a few others, on her acceptance into Seoryeong University as a music major. She had previously graduated from the university with a business degree and is now attending the school to pursue music. When asked by Min-sung if she’s happy, Song-Ah answers with a big smile on her face that she is. She is happy.
Song-Ah and the orchestra she’s a part of prepare for a performance that day at the Seoul Arts Center. While waiting in the waiting room, all the other classmates are frustrated at having to travel all the way to Seoul when they have their own auditorium back at their university. However, Song-Ah is excited for the performance as this will be her first time performing at the arts center. Unlike everyone else, she attended a regular high school so she’s had less opportunities. Eventually, everyone is called onto the stage for the rehearsal so they all head out together. Song-Ah is amazed and fascinated by how grand and big the auditorium is and she’s excited at the thought of performing. The special star of the performance is none other than pianist, Park Joon-young (Kim Min-jae), who Song-Ah went to school with. However, since she entered the university as a business degree, she and Joon-young never interacted. This too will be her first time watching him play the piano.
And so the rehearsal begins. Everyone is silent when the conductor enters the stage and everything seems to be going along smoothly during rehearsals. Joon-young himself finally makes his grand appearance and he’s met by an applause by everyone on stage. Just as rehearsal is about to resume, the conductor has a change of plans and he demands for Song-Ah as well as her peer to exit. The violins are too loud so the conductor wants to reduce the count. While Song-Ah’s colleague immediately leaves the stage, Song-Ah stays behind. The conductor isn’t so happy at the sight of Song-Ah and he calls her out in front of everyone, including Joon-young who’s seated at his piano.
The conductor grows frustrated and agitated when Chae Song-Ah introduces herself. He assumes she’s apologizing as her name sounds similar to the words “I’m sorry”, but the conductor doesn’t care. He just wants Song-Ah gone. He refuses to let her play at the performance. The ridicule and embarrassment comes to a halt when Joon-young drops his music sheets on his piano and a huge sound echoes as a result. Although the conductor at first gives in to letting Song-Ah play, he can’t seem to accept the situation and demands for her to leave once again. This time, Song-Ah exits from the stage and heads back to the waiting room in tears. Best friend, Min-sung, too is at the center and inquires on purchasing a ticket for the performance. However, all seats have been sold out so she has no other option but to watch from the lobby. The camera will also only focus on both the stage as a whole and Joon-young so there’s no way of seeing anyone else on the stage.
Min-sung texts Song-Ah about her presence which perks Song-Ah’s attention. While hiding in the restroom, Song-Ah also overhears her classmate, Hae-na, and another member of the orchestra gossip about her and what she plans on doing after graduation. It’s obvious they’re curious about Song-Ah, but they don’t have enough courage to ask the question to Song-Ah themselves. Song-Ah also opens the email she received from a graduate university she applied to and she’s heartbroken at the reality of being rejected. Eventually, the performance begins and Joon-young as well as the conductor enters the stage to a round of applause. As usual, Joon-young wipes down the piano keys before starting off the first performance followed along by the rest of the musicians on the stage.
Song-Ah peeks through the back door that leads directly to the stage to watch the performance. As Joon-young and the rest of the orchestra performs, she can’t help but notice just how passionate and powerful of a performer Joon-young is. She notes to herself,
Tears fell. The music he brought to life was too passionate. What I had inside of me felt so small and shabby. Tears fell.
Eventually, the concert comes to an end and Joon-young greets his mother after the performance. She leaves after politely asking him for money and commenting that his father is doing much better now. Meanwhile, Song-Ah encounters her Hae-na in the restroom where she was hiding after the performance. Hae-na follows up with her on the summer internship at Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation that they both applied for. Whereas Hae-na is already committed to participating in the internship, Song-Ah still isn’t sure on whether she wants to participate or not.
Song-Ah exits the building while calling Min-sung on the phone. However, Min-sung is a bit occupied with something else at the moment and she leaves Song-Ah hanging. Seconds later, Song-Ah finds what it was Min-sung was busy with and turns out Min-sung was busy taking photos with Joon-young outside. Song-Ah greets the both of them and Min-sung takes some time to introduce Joon-young and Song-Ah to each other. Joon-young recalls Song-Ah from the rehearsal incident earlier that day and commends her for her work with the performance before going back inside the building. Aww, he went along with it and acted as if Song-Ah played during the performance T_T
A small reception is held after the performance for the 60th anniversary of Seoryeong University’s Department of Music. Joon-young along with Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation’s team leader, Cha Young-in, attend the reception together. Later on during the reception, Joon-young is approached by the same conductor who requests for a collaboration for the New Year’s concert. Joon-young politely declines the idea and also explains that his upcoming collaboration was something that was discussed a while ago. The conductor isn’t so happy with Joon-young’s response and he walks away without any comment.
Song-Ah and Min-sung go out for some dinner that night. Min-sung presents the violinist with a customized calendar that she made herself and even brings up her break-up with Dong-yoon for a few seconds. Song-Ah mentions about the summer internship that she applied for and talks about the dilemma she’s currently facing. She’s afraid that the internship will prevent her from having time to practice the violin and she’s not sure if that’s what she wants. Min-sung reassures Song-Ah that she can practice on the weekends and after work, but Song-Ah still isn’t sure. While Min-sung is attending graduate school with a degree in chemistry, Song-Ah questions her decision to pursue music. Song-Ah is reminded of how Dong-yoon was the only one who encouraged Song-Ah to follow her dreams of doing music and playing the violin, but Min-sung also reassures her best friend that everything will work out fine in the end.
While Min-sung leaves to go use the restroom, Song-Ah is approached by a little girl who’s interested in her violin. The little girl asks if Song-Ah is good at playing the violin to which Song-Ah replies that it’s something she enjoys doing. Eventually, Song-Ah and Min-sung goes their separate ways to head back home. Song-Ah walks home while Min-sung takes the taxi. Joon-young too prepares to go back home. While leaving the building where the reception was held, he overhears the conductor complaining about him and putting him down. On the drive back to his place, Joon-young chats with Team Leader Cha about the director of the Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation. This eventually leads Team Leader Cha to bring up Jung-kyung (Park Ji-hyun) which prompts Joon-young to recall a memory from a performance he had in New York. On that night, Joon-young found Jung-kyung in tears as he looked for her inside of the building.
Back inside the car, Joon-young discovers Song-Ah outside under a building to protect herself and her violin from the rain. She uses her coat to cover her violin and runs to a convenience store to purchase an umbrella. Upon seeing Song-Ah, Joon-young is reminded once again of the performance from earlier that day and he asks Team Leader Cha if she has an umbrella with her. However, he changes his mind upon seeing Song-Ah run into a convenience store.
When Song-Ah arrives home, she spends some time with her parents and her sister in the living room. They’re quick to ask her about her plans post-graduation which Song-Ah doesn’t feel so confident about. She plans on doing the internship with the Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation as a planning team intern, but Mom isn’t so impressed. Song-Ah’s running out of time and she doesn’t have any concrete plans either after graduation. If she was going to study music, she should do something more useful with it than just be an intern. Mom suggests for Song-Ah to become a low-level civil servant as another possible option, but Song-Ah is determined to pursue music. She wants to keep playing the violin. Eventually, the pressure and constant questions becomes too much for Song-Ah and she retreats to her room in tears.
In her bedroom, Song-Ah takes a look at the program book for the orchestra concert from earlier that evening. She catches her name at the very bottom of the list for violinists and grows proud of herself for such an accomplishment, but accidentally spills some beer on the page where her name was located. Song-Ah then makes her decision about the internship and accepts the opportunity at the Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation. Joon-young himself settles into his new apartment that the director of Kyunghoo Cultural Foundation rented for him. He finds a ‘welcome’ card upon entering the place and stares out at the beautiful view.
And so it’s the first day of the internship! Both Song-Ah and Hae-na arrive at the office and introduce themselves to the rest of the staff. Just like all the other times, Song-Ah has to clarify her name when she introduces herself and the rest of the staff does the same. Team Leader Cha introduces herself as the head of the planning team. Then there’s Park Sung-jae who is in charge of overseas communication. Im Yoo-jin is responsible for the planning of the Kyunghoo Art Hall while Jung Da-woon takes care of all the PR and Marketing. Our two interns receive a tour of the building by Team Leader Cha and they also receive assignments to do for the internship. In between all the work, Song-Ah still finds the time to practice the violin like how she had planned on doing.
After some time, Song-Ah realizes that she doesn’t have enough time to practice the violin at home so she asks Team Leader Cha if she can use the rehearsal room during her lunch break to practice. Team Leader Cha agrees and suggests for Song-Ah to follow up with Yoo-jin who’s usually the one in charge of the rehearsal room. Details eventually get worked out and Song-Ah heads to the rehearsal room with her violin while everyone else goes out for some lunch. Upon opening the door, Song-Ah finds Joon-young inside playing his piano. She’s fascinated by his piano skills and watches in awe as he plays. It’s not until her phone buzzes that the two notice each other and Song-Ah apologizes for intervening. Joon-young recognizes Song-Ah again from the orchestra concert as well as the night before with the rain. Song-Ah receives a call from Yoo-jin who apologizes for not notifying her earlier about Joon-young’s visit to the rehearsal room. Joon-young himself seems to be struggling with the piano and disproves of the sounds he’s producing through the instrument.
Later on that evening, our Kyunghoo team goes out for a company dinner. With Joon-young absent, Song-Ah is asked by Team Leader Cha to go grab him back at the building. Upon stepping out of the restaurant, Song-Ah encounters Joon-young who finds his way to the restaurant. They awkwardly greet each other and Song-Ah explains that she went out to go find him since he doesn’t have a cell phone just yet. However, Joon-young uses the opportunity to pull out his new cellphone and he asks for Song-Ah’s phone number so that they can communicate about using the rehearsal room. They stand outside for a few more seconds to allow Song-Ah’s legs to wake back up before they head back inside the restaurant together (THEY’RE SOOOO CUTE).
Once inside, everyone talks about Joon-young’s plans to return to school. He’ll be attending Seoryeong University for the last semester which excites Hae-na and piques Song-Ah’s interest. Team Leader Cha notes that the Joon-young and Song-Ah are the same age since they entered university at the same time and even suggests that they can be friends. However, Song-Ah grows shy at the thought of befriending Joon-young (“is it because he’s a superstar? Even superstar has friends!” haha). Eventually, the company dinner comes to an end and everyone prepares to go back home. While finishing their last cup of alcohol, Song-Ah and Joon-young peek at each other. Hehe.
That night, Joon-young and Song-Ah go through their phones to check up on their friends, respectively. Song-Ah receives a phone call from Dong-yoon who shares exciting news of a win for a competition. She follows it up by reading an article about Dong-yoon’s win and his dreams of becoming the best violinmaker in the world. It’s perfect as her violin seems to be sounding funny and his help would surely be appreciated. Dong-yoon also announces his plans to return to Korea and requests for Song-Ah to pick him up at the airport the next day. Meanwhile, Joon-young reads an email from his great friend, Han Hyun-ho (Kim Sung-cheol), who also plans on returning to Korea from the United States the next day. Joon-young then goes on to watch a video of both Hyun-ho and Jung-kyung wishing him best of luck for a performance that he had back then. The video triggers Joon-young to recall once more the memory of his performance in New York and the night he found Jung-kyung in tears. Upon finding her, Jung-kyung leaned in to give Joon-young a kiss which surprises the pianist himself. In the present, Joon-young is bothered by the memory and he puts away his cellphone so as to stop thinking about his past.
The day has come! Song-Ah stops by the restroom at the airport to prep her appearance before she is to pick up Dong-yoon. She receives a phone call from Min-sung at that moment and recalls Min-sung’s devastation and sadness at having not received any calls from Dong-yoon since his trip to Italy. Song-Ah ends up wiping off the lip gloss on her lips and she waits outside in the lobby for Dong-yoon. While waiting, Song-Ah notices Joon-young standing not too far from her also waiting. The two lock eyes and they eventually start up a conversation. After explaining their reasons for being at the airport (“I’m here to pick up a friend”), they go on to chat about Song-Ah’s internship.
Song-Ah relays that she proposed a program and a PR & Marketing Campaign as part of the entrance exam for the internship and centered her program around Brahms, Clara, and Schumann. Joon-young assumes Song-Ah’s theme about Brahms mentioned about “unattainable love”, but she clarifies that she wrote about the friendship of three people instead. Since they’re already on the topic of Brahms, Song-Ah asks if Joon-young likes Brahms to which Joon-young answers that he doesn’t. He’s not a fan of Brahms.
Their conversation is cut short when Dong-yoon appears at the airport and calls out Song-Ah’s name. Hyun-ho and Jung-kyung both also show up at the same time as Dong-yoon and Joon-young is speechless when he witnesses his two friends together. In a voice over, Song-Ah voices,
The person Brahms loved his entire life was Clara, the wife of Schumann who was his senior musician and close friend. Clara was a musician as well and played Brahm’s music quite often, but her husband Schumann was always by her side. Just like that, Brahms spent his entire life alone by Clara’s side.
I found out later that he (Joon-young) didn’t play Brahm’s songs.
Scenes of Joon-young practicing with Jung-kyung and Hyun-ho flashes on the screen and it’s obvious that Joon-young is the Brahms in this case, having harbored feelings and affection for Hyun-ho. As Song-ah excitedly greets Dong-yoon, she also notices Hyun-ho and Jung-kyung on the side staring right at Joon-young. Now it becomes clearer as to why Joon-young doesn’t like Brahms.
Such a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful episode! Granted, this drama is a melodrama about youth, dreams, passion, classical music, romance, and everything else within that realm so it’s expected to an extent, but the directing and cinematography really gave the drama an extra touch that made it so easy and pleasing to watch. There’s been dramas done about music before and while I’m not a casual viewer of such dramas (the only dramas really centered around music that I recall watching thus far is ‘Dream High’ and ‘Monstar’), ‘Do You Like Brahms?’ presents a different type of music drama than we’re used to which I appreciate.
What I also appreciated was the context about Brahms and his love for Clara. I actually had to do some research prior to watching the drama because I wasn’t too sure who Brahms was and what his backstory was and why this drama had his name in it. Let’s just say I didn’t get too much successful researching done so I’m glad that the drama gave us some background in this first episode. I sort of expected the drama to do so, but I was also afraid that the drama wasn’t going to give viewers any context and just roll with things. Therefore, the background on Brahms and the comparison to Joon-young in this case was definitely helpful in setting everything up and helping us understand how Joon-young is similar to Brahms and where it can possibly lead us. Of course, there’s still so much more that the drama is going to uncover and reveal, but I liked how the first episode already hinted to us how Joon-young’s love and life is similar to Brahm’s situation.
Just based off of this first episode, I feel as though Song-Ah and Joon-young are going to have a slow burn type of love and relationship which I know I will wholeheartedly love and enjoy as the drama progresses. I didn’t expect them to interact so much in this first episode so it was pleasant to see them be awkwardly adorable and cute with each other. It’s obvious that they have some sort of interest in each other already and although it might not be a romantic one for now, it does seem like they’re interested in each other as acquaintances or maybe even friends of some sort. They’re both the same age and as we slowly witnessed, they’re both going through a crisis in their lives right now. Song-Ah isn’t certain if playing the violin and practicing music is what’s right for her and she feels this pressure from her parents and peers to either be better at her work or to do something else with her life given her age. Joon-young feels conflicted in his life for he’s at a stage where he sort of feels like he’s on standby or his career is stagnant. He too feels this pressure to excel and to do well and he’s unsure if he’ll be able to project this reputation for much longer with all these expectations.
Given the small hints and preview that the drama was giving to us in this first episode about Song-Ah and Joon-young, it only makes me so much more excited for when they do slowly start to become acquainted and eventually fall in love with each other. They sort of already have this connection with each other that can’t yet be described through words. This small impact that they have on each other’s lives can be only be felt and I definitely sensed it when the two were together. Whether it was the beginning scene of Song-Ah getting yelled at by the conductor or when Song-Ah was so touched by Joon-young’s piano skills she was close to tears or even simply when Joon-young saw Song-Ah outside in the rain without an umbrella with the calm piano playing in the background (and let’s not forget about the rehearsal room scene or the restaurant scene either!) — I mean, all these scenes already said so much about the two and what’s to come. Song-Ah and Joon-young’s relationship is off to a cute and soft start and I’m so so satisfied with what we were given in this episode. The two are at a moment in their life where they’re confused, uncertain, and afraid and the best part of it is that they will both be there for each other through it all.
Song-Ah’s uncertainty with this phase in her life is something that I think many people can relate to (and I myself can definitely resonate with Song-Ah). She enjoys playing the violin and she wants to continue doing it, but she’s not so sure if it’s the right thing for her or if it’s going to really take her anywhere. Often times, we’re pressured to do something with our life that will bring us money and fortune and the pressure increases as you age. For Song-Ah who is 29-years old, she feels conflicted because she knows she should probably do something that will make her family proud of her, but doing so would conflict with what she wants to do personally. It goes back to the whole dreams vs. reality situation and sometimes what you want to do or what makes you happy won’t necessarily get you to where you want to be (financially, socially, etc.). In situations like these, what do you do? Keep on pursuing your dreams or give it up for something more realistic and accessible?
Unlike other dramas, I was pretty caught up with all the teasers and clips to this drama leading up to the premiere. I usually don’t watch all the teasers or clips to a new drama because I like to be surprised and to keep my expectations low, but I unknowingly found myself watching most clips of ‘Do You Like Brahms?.’ It also doesn’t help that the cast guested on the latest ‘Running Man’ episode. Needless to say, my expectations were met as the drama was beautiful and stunning to watch and Kim Min-jae and Park Eun-bin were fantastic. I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant on our lead pairing at first. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any chemistry between the two and I thought the two were sort of an odd pairing at first. However, after watching episode one, my doubts and second guesses completely vanished and I’m loving our lead couple. Park Eun-bin and Kim Min-jae are selling their characters well respectively, but they are also doing so great when together. You can feel the chemistry between the two and a huge part of that is because both actors are so talented and wonderful individually.
I like how simple, elegant, and subtle the drama is and I hope it remains this way throughout its run. ‘Do You Like Brahms?’ follows the themes of dreams, passion, love, and youth and based off of this first episode, it seems as if it’s on a good trajectory to lovely execution and storytelling. The storytelling is easy to follow and intriguing so far, and the music gives a special touch that elevates everything even more. I’ve gone into dramas with excitement and high expectations after watching the first two episodes (*COUGH* Was It Love *COUGH*) so I really don’t want to become disappointed and mislead halfway into the show. Here’s to hoping that ‘Do You Like Brahms?’ will be consistent and pleasant the whole way through, just as it was with its first episode.