Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Plank, Steven E. "Mendelssohn and Bach: Some New Light on an Old Partnership." American Choral Review 32 (Winter/Spring 1990): 23-28.

The "Es ist genug" aria from Mendelssohn's Elijah uses the aria "Es ist vollbracht" from J. S. Bach's St. John Passion as a model. The model was likely chosen because of their similar dramatic purposes: Mendelssohn's aria contains Elijah's desperate plea to God for an end to his life, and "Es ist vollbracht" depicts Jesus' emotions while dying on the cross. Mendelssohn also borrowed Bach's structural scheme, applying stark contrasts between the lamentational A section and the vigorous B section. Also in the shadow of "Es ist vollbracht," "Es ist genug" contains obbligato writing for low strings. In a more specific sense, both arias use a prominent descending sixth in the opening statement, and both statements are followed by a diminished seventh chord on the downbeat. The similarities not only illustrate Mendelssohn's indebtedness to Bach, but Mendelssohn's implication of the theological commonalities between Elijah and the St. John Passion.

Works: Mendelssohn: Elijah (24-26).

Sources: Bach: St. John Passion (24-26).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Eytan Uslan

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