Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reynolds, Christopher A. “Florestan Reading Fidelio.” Beethoven Forum 4 (1995): 135-64.

German Romantic composers often struggled to balance the tension between originality and musical tradition in their works. Although many composers verbally or publically downplayed their indebtedness to their predecessors, they still alluded to the great composers of the past, using those allusions as points of departure for new, original musical works. Beethoven’s Fidelio represents this tension in two distinct ways. On the one hand, Fidelio features numerous allusions to Haydn and Mozart, and these borrowings take on new identities and meanings as they enhance the drama of Beethoven’s opera. On the other hand, later composers also used motives from Fidelio as musical-textual symbols in their own works, often reshaping them to serve a new musical function. While the borrowed material could occasionally retain some of its original meaning in its new context, composers often subverted or supplanted the borrowed material in order to assert their originality and genius within a longer historical tradition.

Works: Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1 (138-40), Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 (137-38, 161); Schubert: Octet in F Major, D.803 (140); Beethoven: Fidelio (141-44, 147-54); Peter Cornelius: Beethoven-Lied (144-45); Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (145-47); Schubert: Mass No. 2 in G Major, D.167 (154-56); Robert Schumann: Frauenliebe und Leben (156-58), Frühlingsankunft (158-60), Album für die Jugend, Op. 68 (161).

Sources: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 (137), Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”) (138-41), Piano Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (140), Septet, Op. 20 (140), Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (“Eroica”) (144-47); Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (147-48); Beethoven: Vestas Feuer (148), Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, WoO 87 (148), Mailied, Op. 52, No. 4 (148-49); Mozart: Abendempfindung, K.523 (150); Haydn: Abendlied zu Gott (150-51); Mozart: Idomeneo (153-54); Beethoven: Fidelio (154-61).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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