Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Schildkret, David. "On Mozart Contemplating a Work of Handel: Mozart's Arrangement of Messiah." In Festa Musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow, ed. Thomas J. Mathiesen and Benito V. Rivera, 129-46. Stuyvesant, N.Y.: Pendragon, 1995.

Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah in 1789 is not a "joyless labor in which Mozart invested a minimum of artistic efforts" as many scholars perceive it. After being commissioned by Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Mozart worked on the arrangement based on the first edition of Handel's score published by Randall and Abell. Mozart's changes fall into four categories: cuts and substitutions; changes of orchestration; addition and alteration of performance indications; and others. Most extensive and significant are the alterations made in orchestration. Mozart minimizes the juxtaposition of soloist and orchestra of the concerto-like dialogue in Handel; alters Handel's inflections by emphasizing important cadences in order to clarify the structure; and adds dynamic markings, bowings, articulations, trills, and tempo changes. All these alterations indicate an underlying logic of Mozart's artistic intention: to transform the outdated style of Baroque music and its performance practice into the musical language of his time in order to suit the taste of the late-eighteenth-century audience.

Works: Mozart: Arrangement of Handel's Messiah K. 572 (132-36, 140-46).

Sources: Handel: Messiah (137-39).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Tong Cheng Blackburn

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