Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Schoenberg, Arnold. "Folkloristic Symphonies." Musical America 67 (February 1947): 7, 370. Also trans. Schoenberg as "Symphonien aus Volksliedern." Stimmen 1 (November 1947): 1-6. English version in Style and Idea, ed. Dika Newlin, 196-203. New York: Philosophical Library, 1950; reprinted in Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein, 161-66. London: Faber and Faber, 1975.

Many composers have tried to create art music from folk music. These two types of music should not be combined. In his String Quartet Op. 59, No. 2, Beethoven only treated the borrowed Russian folk melody in a fugato-like manner. A melody that is used in a large-scale formal structure must lend itself to developmental processes. A folk melody is complete in itself. This is beautiful music, unlike artificial "folk" melodies which try to represent the spirit of the people, yet result in trivial condescension. A motive, unlike a folk melody, is incomplete; for example, the opening motive of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 must be elaborated and developed to achieve its true character and to exhaust its expression. When folk song is used in a symphony, because the song is already complete, all composers can do is apply techniques of development, such as repetition, transposition, changes of instrumentation, and sequence.

Works: Beethoven: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2 (162).

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Christopher Holmes

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