Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kawabata, Maiko. “Virtuoso Codes of Violin Performance: Power, Military Heroism, and Gender (1789-1830).” 19th-Century Music 28 (Fall 2004): 89-107.

During the rise of the violin concerto as a virtuosic showpiece, militaristic musical topics and virtuoso codes of performance were combined to create the overall impression of the violinist as a hero, a symbol of military power. Many composers, including Haydn and Beethoven, incorporated ideas from military bands or revolutionary songs into their instrumental works because these borrowings were popular with audiences. Violin concertos, especially, began using elements such as the timpani, march topics and rhythms, and brass fanfares alongside brilliant technical passages, highlighting the performer’s “victory” over the challenges. This practice originated in the French concertos of the late eighteenth century, which were often quasi-programmatic, suggesting peacetime military exercises with the violin “commanding” the orchestral army. The violin bow also became symbolic of a sword. Performers cultivated their heroic image by staging violin “duels” or imitating famous generals such as Napoleon. Inherent in these views was the cultivation of the violin as an essentially masculine instrument; symbolic language surrounding the violin often had violent connotations, and it was seen as inappropriate for a woman to play it.

Works: Charles de Beriot: March (91), Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 16 (93-94); Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 3 in E Major, MS 50 (93, 96), Violin Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 6 (95); Karol Lipinski: Concerto Militaire (93-95); Rodolphe Kreutzer: Violin Concerto No. 14 in E Major (93-94); Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (95); Luigi Boccherini: String Quartet in D Minor, G. 172 (102-3); Giovanni Battista Viotti: Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major (103).

Sources: Charles-Simon Catel: “Marche guerrière” from Sémiramis (102).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Meredith Rigby

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