Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Wolff, Christoph. "Vivaldi's Compositional Art, Bach, and the Process of 'Musical Thinking.'" In Bach: Essays on His Life and Music, 72-83. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Since the time of Forkel, the study of the music of Vivaldi has generally been carried out with respect to Bach, and has resulted in an overemphasis on the former composer's concertos. While Forkel to some extent oversimplified the significance of Vivaldi to Bach's music, it is nevertheless the case that the study and transcription of Vivaldi's concertos played an important role not only in the formation of Bach's musical style, but also in the development of his "musical thinking." Bach recognized that Vivaldi had developed a system for the composition of instrumental music that was based on a threefold process of order/organization (Ordnung), connection/continuity (Zusammenhang), and relation/proportion (Verhältnis). This process transcends superficial considerations of genre and directly addresses the elaboration of musical material from germinal ideas. Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi's concertos represent an opportunity to observe this process of "musical thinking" as it unfolds in the elaboration of musical motives. The compositional process consists, then, in the exploration of the potentialities of core ideas: their organization and reorganization, their contribution to the unity of the movement, and their relationship and proportion with respect to other ideas. Such a system of "musical thinking" was instrumental not only in the formation of Bach's style, but also in the gradual dominance of instrumental music in the eighteenth century.

Works: Bach: Concerto for Harpsichord in F Major, BWV 978 (75-83).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Alexander J. Fisher

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