Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Carew, Derek. “Hummel’s ‘Op. 81’: A Paradigm for Brahms’s ‘Op. 2’?” Ad Parnassum 3, no. 6 (October 2005): 133-56.

Brahms wished to emulate his models, and after Schumann lamented that the piano sonata was in decline, he published three forays into the genre. Hummel was a friend of Beethoven and a brilliant improvisor and composer, and his Sonata in F-sharp Minor was well known and admired by Schumann, which made him an ideal model for Brahms. Hummel’s layered (though not quite contrapuntal) pianistic texture can be seen in the three-stave section of Brahms’s own F-sharp Minor Sonata. Brahms’s Scherzo, Op. 4, also has a similar melody to the scherzo from Hummel’s Piano Quintet, Op. 87, and it employs flat sixth chords in a similar way as well. Additionally, in his Sonata, Op. 2, Brahms employs direct quotation in several places, a reworked version of the opening passage of Hummel’s Sonata, and contrapuntal passages in the finale similar to those in Hummel’s sonata. Both pieces also employ prominent harmonic and melodic movement by thirds. The motives used in Brahms’s “developing variations” in the piece are similar to the improvisatory motives in Hummel’s. The similarity in structure of the two pieces goes beyond the basic sonata form to the ways in which they stretch the traditional system.

Works: Brahms: Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2 (133-38, 142-56), Scherzo, Op. 4 (138-42).

Sources: Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor, Op. 81 (133-38, 142-56), Piano Quintet, Op. 87 (138-42).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Meredith Rigby

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