Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Ringer, Alexander L. "The Art of the Third Guess: Beethoven to Becker to Bartók." The Musical Quarterly 52 (July 1966): 304-12.

Beethoven composed two separate sketches (Paris and Vienna) on Goethe's Erlkönig. Some aspects of these settings, such as repeated notes in the treble part, the drone in the bass, and the harmonic movement to mediant-related major keys for the middle section are remarkably similar to Schubert's Wanderer and Erlkönig. Near the end of the nineteenth century, Reinhold Becker took the transcription done by Gustav Nottebohm of the Vienna sketch as the basis for a "complete version," in an attempt at what Paul H. Lang calls "the art of the second guess." Bartók then orchestrated this arrangement in a work which was unknown to Bartók scholars until the discovery of the score at the University of Illinois Music Library. Bartók made no attempt to correct any of Becker's mistakes or changes from Beethoven's setting, except for a few harmonic changes, but his orchestration provided new sophisticated treatments of rhythm, color, and dynamics not found in the arrangement or the original.

Works: Bartók: Erlkönig (308-11); Becker: Erlkönig (307-08); Beethoven: Erlkönig.

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Nikola D. Strader

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