Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bonds, Mark Evan. "Replacing Haydn: Mozart's 'Pleyel' Quartets." Music and Letters 88 (May 2007): 201-25.

It has long been recognized that Mozart's "Haydn" Quartets (K. 387, 421, 428, 458, 464, 465) are a response to Haydn's String Quartets, Opp. 20 and 33; however, K. 464 and 465 can also be understood as a pointed response to the string quartets of Ignaz Pleyel, Mozart's slightly younger contemporary. Pleyel, a student of Haydn, also modeled much of his String Quartets, Op. 1 on Haydn's Opp. 20 and 33. Though Pleyel rarely moves beyond surface similarities, and his music seems to suffer from abundant repetition, extensive homophony, and slow dramatic pacing, several critics applauded the quartets for their accessibility. Mozart even wrote to his father commending Pleyel's Op. 1 and encouraged him to obtain a copy. Yet when Pleyel published a second set of string quartets (Op. 2) in the same year and dedicated them to Haydn, Mozart quickly rose to claim his musical superiority. K. 464 and 465 simultaneously expand upon elements of Haydn's Opp. 20 and 33 and Pleyel's Op. 1; in fact, Mozart undercuts several of Pleyel's more innovative movements by exposing their inherent structural weaknesses. Mozart also uses the title page of his "Haydn" Quartets to assert his role as Haydn's successor. By using a design similar to Pleyel's Op. 2, and by openly naming as Haydn a friend and paternal figure, as opposed to a teacher, Mozart identifies himself as the greater composer.

Works: Pleyel: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 1, No. 1 (215-18), String Quartet in A Major, Op. 1, No. 3 (205, 207-9, 212-216), String Quartet in D Major, Op. 1, No. 6 (205-7); Mozart, String Quartet in D Minor, K. 421 (207), String Quartet in A Major, K. 464 (212-15), String Quartet in C Major, K. 465 (215-18).

Sources: Haydn: String Quartet in D Major, Op. 20, No. 4 (205-7), String Quartet in A Major, Op. 20, No. 6 (205, 207-9, 212-14), String Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3 (215-18), String Quartet in G Major, Op. 33, No. 5 (207); Pleyel: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 1, No. 1 (215-18), String Quartet in A Major, Op. 1, No. 3 (212-15).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Laura B. Dallman

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