Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Golomb, Uri. “Mendelssohn’s Creative Response to Late Beethoven: Polyphony and Thematic Identity in Mendelssohn’s ‘Quartet in A-major Op. 13’.” Ad Parnassum 4, no. 7 (2007): 101-119.

It is clear that Mendelssohn emulated Beethoven’s late string quartets, particularly the Op. 132 String Quartet in A Minor, in his String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13. While he decided to explore certain compositional methods and techniques from Beethoven, he used them to further his own musical ideas in the piece. Op. 13 is more intense than Mendelssohn’s earlier works, but still conveys a different a mood than the Beethoven piece. Beethoven’s quartet is characterized by lack of stability and contradictory fragments, with the work’s narrative crisis somewhat resolved at the end. While Mendelssohn’s theme does not imitate the stops and starts of Beethoven’s, it resembles Beethoven’s theme in contour and harmonic ambiguity. Most of Mendelssohn’s themes are more complete and regular. However, he begins by morphing a single motive into the theme in a Beethoven-like manner. Like the Beethoven piece’s struggle between the march theme and the sustained theme, Mendelssohn’s piece also includes a contrapuntal tension between two themes. These characteristics of Beethoven’s late works were controversial in his time, and Mendelssohn’s more measured and structured interpretation of those elements in his Op. 13 was his own commentary on those works.

Works: Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13.

Sources: Beethoven: String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132; Mendelssohn: Sinfonia in F Minor, Op. 11 (110-14).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Meredith Rigby

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