Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Todd, R. Larry. “Mendelssohnian Allusions in the Early Piano Works of William Sterndale Bennett.” In The Piano in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, edited by Therese Ellsworth and Susan Wollenberg, 101-18. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

Many of William Sterndale Bennett’s piano pieces contain allusions to Mendelssohn’s music, which serve both to situate Bennett within a certain style, and also to provide intertextual meaning. His cantata Woman of Samaria is modeled on Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Many of his short piano pieces, such as the Impromptus and Romanzas, borrow from Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte. The Impromptu, Op. 12, No. 2, for example, reflects the opening texture of Mendelssohn’s Caprice, Op. 16, No. 3: both containing a flowing soprano melody with alto accompaniment in the right hand, while the left hand has slower-moving tenor and bass parts. The rising melody in the second phrase of the piece is also a reworking of a melody from Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 14. Bennett’s Romanza, Op. 14, No. 2 clearly borrows many textural, melodic, harmonic, and formal elements from Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38, No. 6, including a passage with duet texture. Bennett’s piano sonata, which is dedicated to Mendelssohn and was written on the occasion of his wedding to Cecile, contains many allusions to the Lieder ohne Worte and other pieces. It includes alternations of major and minor passages, and several duet passages reminiscent of Mendelssohn’s Op. 38, No. 6. It also features a reworking of the melody from Mendelssohn’s Op. 19, No. 5 in the finale. The romantic connotations evoked by these allusions create a personalized love song through the sonata.

Works: William Sterndale Bennett: Woman of Samaria (101), Three Impromptus, Op. 12 (102-3), Romanzas, Op. 14 (103-6), Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 13 (107-16).

Sources: Mendelssohn: Elijah (101), Lieder ohne Worte, Op 19, No. 2 (102), String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 14 (103), Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30, No. 1 (104), Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38, No. 6 (105-6, 110-113), Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30, No. 2 (114), Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19, No. 5 (114), Overture, Op. 32 (115-117).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Meredith Rigby

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