Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Sadler, Graham. "A Re-Examination of Rameau's Self-Borrowings." In Jean-Baptiste Lully and the Music of the French Baroque: Essays in Honor of James R. Anthony, ed. John Hajdu Heyer, 259-89. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Since Girdlestone's article on Rameau's self-borrowings omitted most of them and contains many errors, a re-examination is necessary. Sadler discovers patterns in Rameau's borrowing habits according to the genre of the pieces quoted from. These include (1) harpsichord collections, (2) instrumental pieces from operas, and (3) vocal borrowings. The article, however, excludes borrowings "consisting of a single phrase or motive in mid-piece" and "items moved bodily from one self-contained entrée of an opera to another when a work was revived." Rameau's harpsichord pieces were well known and quotations from them were the only ones that the public seems to have identified. Rameau did not disguise them but rather placed them in prominent positions of his first group of operas. His usual practice was to change the formal structure of the original considerably, borrowing only the first one or two phrases or the refrain of a rondeau. With these quotations Rameau hoped to transfer some of the popular appeal to his early operas. Once the Lulliste-Ramiste controversy had resolved in his favor, these borrowings were handled much more freely. Rameaus's approach to borrowing from instrumental operatic pieces differs considerably from the one discussed above. From 1745-60 he quoted his lesser-known operas with little change, whereas during the last four years of his life, he extensively reworked parts from his most famous operas, such as Castor and Pollux,Zoroastre,Platée, and Zaïs. The reluctance of the French to re-use vocal numbers and to re-set existing libretti explains why Rameau usually altered the text of his vocal borrowings, a fact which makes it difficult to trace possible borrowings from operas of which the music is lost. Vocal borrowings make up the smallest category and it is thus difficult to draw any conclusions about their purpose. Rameau quotes from some of his most famous arias but here again may borrow only the opening measures, stimulating his imagination to continue freely.

Works: Rameau: La Princesse de Navarre (260, 270, 273), Les fêtes d'Hébé (262), Zoroastre (262, 264-65, 266, 272), Les Indes galantes (264), Pièces de clavecin en concerts (265), Dardanus (266), Les surprises de l'amour (268), Les fêtes de Polymnie (273), Io (273).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Andreas Giger

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