Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Macdonald, Hugh. "Berlioz's Self Borrowings." Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 92 (1965-66): 27-44.

A fairly extensive catalogue of Berlioz's re-use of his own compositions in later works. Macdonald reaches several important conclusions: (1) Berlioz's borrowings show "a gradual perfecting and distillation of a musical idea which is notably enhanced in detail and in aptness at each appearance" (p. 41). This idea explains to a great extent why Berlioz destroyed many of the earlier versions of pieces that were borrowed. (2) Berlioz generated most of his borrowed materials in the earliest period of his career (1825-30) in which he produced only one major work, but which yielded material that he drew upon when "time, money, or the immediate stimulus of a new literary movement . . . were lacking" (p. 39). Conversely, in his later pieces he borrowed insignificantly, if at all. (3) Berlioz did not always borrow music with the same specific programmatic elements, but instead re-used music with similar extramusical connections wherever he felt the occurrence of a similar idea. For this reason the same music is used for "the sentiments of the Abruzzi brigands boasting of their spoils [Harold in Italy], and those of the heroes of Napoleon's army returning home from their victories [Rob Roy]." (p. 41).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Will Sadler

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