Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Beyer, Richard. “Das musikalische Selbstzitat: Eigene Musik in anderen Werken nochmals verwendet.” Das Orchester: Zeitschrift für Orchesterkultur und Rundfunk-Chorwesen 49 (2001): 20-24.

Self-quotation in the classical tradition is when a composer cites a melody or segment from an existing composition in a new work for some extramusical purpose or meaning. Although the technique is rarely found in Renaissance or Baroque music, it attained increased prominence in the late-Classical period and into the twentieth century, due to emerging aesthetics of originality and “absolute music.” The effectiveness of self-quotation, moreover, depends on the composer’s ability to present the existing material in a recognizable way, as well as the listener’s understanding of the origin and meaning of the original work.

Through self-quotation, a composer can create a diverse array of new presentations of older material ranging from commentary, illustration, humor, and either distancing or affirmation of the original material’s meaning. Mozart’s insertion of “Non piú andrai” from Le nozze di Figaro in the finale of Don Giovanni, for instance, momentarily dissolves the boundaries of operatic illusion and reality, invoking the plot of the former opera to foreshadow Don Giovanni’s impending doom. Beethoven utilizes a theme from his ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus as the basis for the finale of his Eroica Symphony to invoke the image of Prometheus as the symbolic hero of the work, which is especially asserted in the coda. In his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner quotes the “love motive” from Tristan und Isolde to draw a parallel between the love triangles of both operas. While the motive symbolized a tragic fate in Tristan und Isolde, however, in Die Meistersinger it reminds Hans Sachs of a tragedy to avoid, thus ensuring the opera’s happy ending. Anton Bruckner inserted quotations from many of his sacred works into his symphonies to give them a special character of reverence and piety. Richard Strauss practiced self-quotation frequently, but particularly fascinating is his symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben, which uses material from Guntram, Don Juan, and several other works to depict Strauss himself as the titular hero of Ein Heldenleben. Self-quotation’s continued relevance as a compositional technique can be seen in contemporary works, with Berg’s opera Lulu, Liebermann’s opera Leonore 40/45, and Zimmermann’s Ballet noir being notable examples.

Works: Mozart: Don Giovanni, K. 527 (21); Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica) (21); Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (21-22); Bruckner: Symphony No. 0 in D Minor, WAB 100 (23), Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, WAB 102 (23), Symphony No. 3 in D Minor, WAB 103 (23), Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, WAB 109 (23), Symphony No. 7 in C-sharp Minor, WAB 107 (23); Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 (23-24), Feuersnot, Op. 50 (24), Der Bürger als Edelmann, Op. 60b (24), Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 (24), Intermezzo, Op. 72 (24), Capriccio, Op. 85 (24), Vier letzte Lieder, Op. posth. (24); Alban Berg: Lulu (24); Rolf Liebermann: Leonore 40/45 (24); Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Ballet noir: Musique pour les soupers du Roi Ubu (24).

Sources: Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, K. 492 (21); Beethoven: Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, Op. 43 (21); Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (21-22); Bruckner: Ave Maria, WAB 6 (23), Mass in F Minor, WAB 28 (23), Mass in D Minor, WAB 26 (23), Te Deum in C Major, WAB 45 (23); Richard Strauss: Guntram, Op. 25 (23-24), Macbeth, Op. 23 (23), Don Juan, Op. 20 (23), Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 (23-24), Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 (23), Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (23), Don Quixote, Op. 35 (23-24), Hymne an die Liebe, Op. 71, No. 1 (24), Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 (24), Daphne, Op. 82 (24), Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60 (24); Alban Berg: Wozzeck (24); Rolf Liebermann: Sonate für Klavier (24).

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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