For over forty years he was an intimate and valued friend of Clara Schumann, who gave rare interpretations of his works, of whom and her children, he was extremely fond, one of his first publications being a set of Volkskinderlieder arranged for the Schumann children. Brahms held Madame Schumann in highest regard, his attitude that of filial devotion she being thirteen years his senior. They called each other by their first names and he was wont to spend the summer months near her. She died on May 20, 1896, and was not long survived by Brahms, who seems never to have recovered from the shock of her loss. A chill, caught at the time of her funeral, aggravated an affection of the liver, which was eventually the cause of his death. He died at Vienna, April 3, 1897, his last words, spoken to the nurse who brought him a drink, were, " I thank you." He was buried in a cemetery near Vienna, near to Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.
Daniel Gregory Mason writes: "Of all the figures of modern music, brilliant and varied as they are, impressing one with the many-sidedness and wide scope of the art, there is perhaps only one, that of Johannes Brahms, which conveys the sense of satisfying poise, self-control and sanity. Others excel him in particular qualities. Grieg is more delicate and intimate, Dvorak warmer and clearer in color; Saint-Saens is more meteoric, Franck more recondite and subtle, and Tschaikowsky more impassioned; but Brahms alone has Homeric simplicity, the primeval health of the well-balanced man. He excels all his contemporaries in soundness and universality. In an age when many people are uncertain of themselves and the world, victims of a pervasive unrest and disappointment, it is solacing to find so heroic and simple a soul, who finds life acceptable, meets it genially, and utters his joy and his sorrow with the old classic sincerity. He is not blighted by any of the myriad forms of egotism, by sentimentality, by the itch to be effective at all costs, or to be original or Byronic or romantic or unfathomable. He has no 'message' for an errant world; no anathema, either profoundly gloomy or insolently clever, to hurl at God. He has rather a deep and broad impersonal love of life; and universal joy is the sum and substance of his expression."