Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reynolds, Christopher Alan. “Transformations.” In Motives for Allusion: Context and Content in Nineteenth-Century Music, 23-43. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Motivic allusions are often dependent on motivic transformations, the most common of which are alterations in rhythm, meter, and intervallic relationships. But a more nuanced exploration of musical allusion requires additional forms of transformation, namely motivic combination, octave displacement, and transformation by genre. Such transformations can occur at different levels—from large-scale formal structures to local phrases and motives—and vary in the obviousness of their presentation, which relies heavily on genre. Musical ideas taken from one genre and recontextualized in another do not have to be as disguised as allusions among pieces in the same genre. In fact, allusions across disparate genres are most effective when they are clear and an exact quotation. Genre was shaped by nineteenth-century audiences’ social and musical expectations, which composers could manipulate through allusions. Transformations through motivic combination, octave displacement, and genre play critical roles in Brahms’s and Schumann’s allusions to Beethoven and to each other, illustrating how nineteenth-century composers were in dialogue with themselves and tradition as they sought to distance their own ideas from preexisting ones. Source material and the allusive motive should share, as a general rule, at least three features for it to be an actual borrowing and not a coincidence. Allusions and formal modeling can be both assimilative and contrastive, and both characteristics are exemplified in Brahms’s Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1, which he models on Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata, only to depart from it. It was important for nineteenth-century composers to establish distance from their models, as Brahms does with his Op. 1, because of the emphasis on originality.

Works: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 (24, 26, 28), Horn Trio, Op. 40 (24), Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1 (25-26, 34, 43), Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Op. 9 (28), Vier ernste Gesange, Op. 121 (30), Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90 (33); Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K.551 (“Jupiter”) (26-27); Robert Schumann: Carnaval, Op. 9 (29-30), Piano Quintet No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 44 (31-32), Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (33, 40), Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 (37, 41), Konzert-Allegro mit Introduktion, Op. 134 (38), Scenen aus Goethes Faust (38), Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120 (42); Niels Gade: Drei kleine Clavierstucke (27-28, 30); Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70 (30), Symphony No. 5 in D Major / D Minor, Op. 107 (“Reformation”) (37); Joseph Eybler: Requiem (34-35); Clara Schumann: Piano Sonata in G Minor, Op. 22 (38).

Sources: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”), (24-26, 43), Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 (24), Piano Sonata No. 3 in D Major, Op. 10 (24), Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 (“Hammerklavier”) (24, 34), Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (27, 39-40), Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (33), Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (40); Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K.551 (“Jupiter”) (26-27), Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, K.493 (31-32), Requiem, K.626 (34-35); Carl Maria von Weber: Der Freischütz (29-30), Koncertstucke in F Minor, Op. 79, J.282 (37-38, 40); Haydn: The Seasons (35), Symphony No. 104 in D Major (36-37); Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D.944 (36-37); Bach: A Musical Offering, BWV 1079 (41): Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda: Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 7 (42); Ignaz Moscheles: Grande Sonate in E-flat Major, Op. 47 (42).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Sarah Kirkman

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