Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Nettheim, Nigel. "The Derivation of Chopin's Fourth Ballade from Bach and Beethoven." The Music Review 54 (May 1993): 95-111.

Chopin's fourth ballade, Op. 52 (1842) borrows elements from several preludes and fugues in J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as from Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata. The ballade's harmonic plan is closely linked to these borrowings: the borrowed Bach pieces, which are all in B flat major or minor, make B flat minor prominent in the ballade, most notably in its main theme. The F minor ending of the ballade is best explained as a borrowing from the Appassionata sonata, which is in the same key. Also borrowed from Bach are a five-voice stretto and some thematic material (for instance, a quotation from one fugue is used as a counterpoint to material taken from another fugue). By emulating Bach, Chopin pays homage to him. From Beethoven's Appassionata Chopin borrowed thematic materials, its passionate mood, and form. Chopin also borrowed from the Appassionata in his Prelude in D Minor, Op. 28, No. 24, yet there the borrowing is limited to mood and thematic material and is better construed as competitive with Beethoven. Understanding these borrowings is essential for tracing Chopin's compositional process and explaining the anomalies in the fourth ballade.

Works: Chopin: Ballade No. 4, Op. 52, Prelude Op. 28, No. 24 (104-5).

Sources: Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Prelude in B flat Minor, (96-98, 101-3), and Book II, Fugue in B flat Major (97, 109); Beethoven: Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57, Appassionata (104-7); Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Prelude in B flat Major (108-10).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Tamara Balter

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