Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Blankenburg, Walter. "Das Parodieverfahren im Weihnachtsoratorium Johann Sebastian Bachs." Musik und Kirche 32 (November/December 1962): 245-54. Reprint in Johann Sebastian Bach, ed. Walter Blankenburg, 493-506. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1970.

That Bach's Christmas Oratorio consists in part of parodied movements from secular cantatas has been problematic for the work's reception. However, Bach's parody technique can be justified on economic, stylistic, and aesthetic grounds. An examination of the Christmas Oratorio demonstrates that Bach carefully reworked his models to harmonize with the new text and the new occasion. Three main aspects of Bach's parody technique may be discerned in the Christmas Oratorio: first, movements are transposed to conform to the overall tonal structure of the work; second, movements may be reorchestrated in order to better correspond with the affect of the new text; and third, the re-texting of the music is carried out in a skillful fashion that is rhetorically appropriate in the new setting. The Christmas Oratorio is, therefore, a highly individual work which owes its success to Bach's careful consideration of the consequences of parody. In the new work the parodied movements are integrated structurally as well as meaningfully into the new setting.

Works: Bach: Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248.

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Alexander J. Fisher

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