Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Sams, Eric. "Brahms and His Clara Themes." The Musical Times 112 (May 1971): 432-34.

During the years he was writing to Clara Schumann (1854-56), Johannes Brahms seems to have used musical ciphers and allusions in two of his pieces in much the same way that Robert Schumann used them, as meaningful references to Clara. Brahms compared the character of his Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 60, to Goethe's Werther, a man with unrequited love for a married woman, a possible allusion to the scenario between Brahms and Clara. A passage in this quintet also has musical allusions to Beethoven's An Die Ferne Geliebte, a work which Schumann quoted in his own Piano Fantasie, Op. 17, and to Schubert's Am Meer from Schwanengesang. Both songs contain themes of unattainable beauty and hopeless love. Likewise, Brahms's Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8, contains an allusion to Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, a work Clara was rehearsing during the time of their correspondence. In this same trio, Brahms also borrowed the C-L-A-R-A cipher from Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120, a theme with obvious references to Clara. The work also contains allusions to Schumann's Manfred Overture and Schumann's opera Genoveva, an opera about a man who falls in love with his master's wife.

Works: Brahms: Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 (432-34), Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 60 (432-33); Robert Schumann, Fantasie, Op. 17 (433).

Sources: Beethoven: An Die Ferne Geliebte (432-33), Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (433); Schubert: Am Meer (432-33); Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120 (433), Genoveva (433-34), Manfred Overture (434).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Mark Chilla

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