Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Mitchell, Donald. "What Do We Know about Britten Now?" In The Britten Companion, ed. Christopher Palmer, 21-45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

The influences of Schoenberg, Mahler, Shostakovich, and far Eastern music are among those influences on which perspectives have changed since 1952. Schoenberg provided the influence, much more apparent after 1952, of serial principles, although not of serial techniques, on Britten, evident in such works as The Turn of the Screw, Cantata Academica, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Song and Proverbs of William Blake, Death in Venice, and Owen Wingrave. Mahler's influence, particularly of Das Lied von der Erde, is emphasized in the orchestral song-cycle Our Hunting Fathers. Shostakovich is acknowledged as an influence on Russian Funeral, the Piano Concerto, Op. 13, and Our Hunting Fathers. These three composers, however, are viewed mainly as influences on Britten's compositional principles (Schoenberg, as "a way of thinking"; Mahler, through "shared technical principles"; and Shostakovich, by satire and parody) rather than on his style, although stylistic similarities are present as well. The influence of the music of the Far East first appeared in the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas and the first church parable, Curlew River. The ballet evokes the sound of a Balinese gamelan, while Curlew River is based on the Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa. Britten's earliest opera Paul Bunyan enhibits similarities to Balinese music as well, which may have been suggested while Britten was in New York through his familiarity with the ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee and McPhee's two-piano transcriptions of Balinese music, Balinese Ceremonial Music.

Works: Britten: Sinfonietta, Op. 1 (25), The Turn of the Screw (26), Cantata Academica (26), A Midsummer Night's Dream (26), Songs and Proverbs of William Blake (26), Death in Venice (26, 30, 36, 43, 35), Owen Wingrave (26), Paul Bunyan (28-30, 41-44), Sinfonia da Requiem (31), Our Hunting Fathers (31, 35-36), Russian Funeral (34), Piano Concerto, Op. 13 (34), Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (38), The Prince of the Pagodas (39, 42), Curlew River (39).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Nikola D. Strader

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