Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reuter, Paul. "Music and the Reformation." In Four Hundred Years: Commemorative Essays on the Reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and Its Blessed Results, ed. W. H. T. Dau, 240-53. St. Louis: Concordia, 1917.

Characteristics of Martin Luther's quintessential chorale, Ein feste Burg, the text of which is taken from Psalm 46, suggest so strong a spirit of revolutionary heroism that several composers responded to it. In addition, many qualities of the tune suggest a folk characteristic, contributing in part to the great response the tune received. In particular, the "defiant" tones of the opening stanza evoke a "battle-song" of liberty in the face of the enemy. Many composers adapted the melody of the tune and devised new harmonies for it. A common eighteenth-century adjustment, for example, was to remove the syncopation from the tune, a tradition begun by J. S. Bach in his cantatas. Subsequent composers, including Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer, retained Bach's adaptation of the melody in their own settings.

Works: J. S. Bach: In festo Reformationis, BWV 80, Ein feste Burg, BWV 720 (248); Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Reformation (248); Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots (248).

Sources: Luther: Ein feste Burg (247-49).

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s

Contributed by: Katie Lundeen

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