Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bomberger, E. Douglas. “Motivic Development in Amy Beach’s Variations on Balkan Themes, Op. 60.” American Music 10 (Autumn 1992): 326-47.

Amy Beach’s Variations on Balkan Themes, her largest and most difficult piano composition, utilizes four Balkan tunes throughout the work. Beach originally thought these melodies were peasant melodies, but two have been positively identified as Bulgarian urban songs. Though there are four melodies used, titled O Maiko Moya, Stara Planina, Nasadil e Dado, and Macedonia,, they do not receive equal treatment in length and development. For instance, the main theme of the variations is based solely on O Maiko Moya, whereas Nasadil e Dado only appears once in the entire work. The other two melodies had charged political meanings, suggesting that Beach was sympathetic to the Balkan people, especially the Macedonians. The form of the work is best described as “free” or “fantasia” variations since the theme is metrically and harmonically free, allowing for development of motives. In this regard, Beach’s variations are constructed similarly to Dvořák’s Symphonic Variations and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio, Op. 50. The descending-thirds key relationships between several of the variations also resemble Beethoven’s Six Variations, Op. 34, while the oscillation between slow and fast tempos in the sixth variation recalls the lassu-friss style found in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. The penultimate variation is a funeral march reminiscent of Chopin’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor in its pianism, especially the use of the lower range of the piano.

Works: Amy Beach: Variations on Balkan Themes, Op. 60.

Sources: Anonymous: O Maiko Moya (328-32, 337, 342-43), Stara Planina (328-332, 336-37, 340-41, 344), Nasadil e Dado (328-29, 337-38), Macedonia (328-332, 341-42); Dvořák: Symphonic Variations (333); Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio, Op. 50 (333); Beethoven: Six Variations, Op. 34 (336), Eroica Variations, Op. 35 (340), Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 (340); Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies, S.244 (337); Chopin: Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 (339-40).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Devin Chaloux

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