Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reynolds, Christopher Alan. “Assimilative Allusions.” In Motives for Allusion: Context and Content in Nineteenth-Century Music, 46-66. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

An assimilative allusion is an allusion that endorses the musical and poetic sense of the earlier passage. The practice of using quotations from earlier pieces to evoke the same mood or meaning began in the late-eighteenth century with Haydn and Mozart, and continued to Wagner. Beethoven borrowed a motif from Reichardt’s Ino depicting family love in his “Archduke” trio, which he told the Countess Guicciardi was about him embracing her family. Some pieces, like Schubert’s Mass in A-flat and his song Der Doppelgänger were composed simultaneously using the same material, so that each work adds to the meaning of the other. Haydn used assimilative allusion in some of his works, but in others he used allusions wittily, the way Schumann did. Liszt alluded to either a Schubert song or an opera by Chelard in his Faust-Symphonie; Wagner in turn incorporated a motive from the Faust-Symphonie into Die Walküre. Wagner’s opinions on Faust also influence the plot of the opera, particularly moments such as the downfall of the gods and Wotan’s inability to recognize the truth. Although people often speak of Wagner’s borrowing in regards to the texts or stories of his works, he used musical allusions as well; Tristan’s death scene in Tristan und Isolde, for instance, uses a theme from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, which had been described by contemporaries as depicting death.

Works: Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 (46-48); Mozart: Piano Concerto in A Major, K.488 (48); Carl Maria von Weber: Mass in E-flat, Op. 75 (51); Schubert: Mass in A-flat Major, D.678 (51-52); Haydn: Mass in B-flat Major, Hob. XXII/13 (52-53); Beethoven: Fidelio (54-57); Liszt: Faust-Symphonie (57); Wagner: Die Walküre (57-63), Tristan und Isolde (63-66).

Sources: Friedrich Reichardt: Ino (46-48); Carl Maria von Weber: Der Freischütz (51); Schubert: “Der Doppelgänger” from Schwanengesang, D.957 (51-52); Haydn: The Creation (52-53); Mozart: The Magic Flute (54); Beethoven: Vestas Feuer (54); Haydn: Abendlied zu Gott, Hob. XXVc:9 (54-55); Mozart: Abendempfindung, K.523 (56-57); Schubert: Szene aus Goethes Faust, D.126 (57-58); Andre-Hippolite Chelard: Macbeth (57-58); Liszt: Faust-Symphonie (57-61); Marschner: Hans Heiling (62); Robert Schumann: Abschied vom Walde, Op. 89, No. 4 (63); Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (63-66).

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s

Contributed by: Meredith Rigby

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