Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reynolds, Christopher Alan. “Definitions.” In Motives for Allusion: Context and Content in Nineteenth-Century Music, 1-22. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Allusion in music is an intentional reference to a preexisting work via a resemblance that influences the interpretation of meaning among those who recognize it. Any instance of allusion involves the interaction of four factors: the composer, the new composition, the old composition, and the audience. Allusions create musical order while simultaneously expressing non-musical meaning, and act within one of two categories. Assimilative allusions rely upon the creator’s acceptance of the referenced material, while contrastive allusions frame the earlier material in a way that creates new, possibly contradictory meaning. Thus, the interpretation of an allusion requires consideration of its musical-rhetorical significance, that is, the composer’s intention and the contextual framework of their audience, not just the intervallic and rhythmic similarities between the allusion and its model. This more nuanced approach to borrowed material allows for a more flexible understanding of the pieces in question, leading listeners to form interpretations may at times partially or completely contradict composers’ intentions.

Such allusions in the early nineteenth century are often achieved through symbolism, and often relied on composers’ invocation of conventional topics, such as dance types, fanfares, regional styles, and pastoral sounds. As Romanticism pervaded artistic circles, however, composers developed more personal systems of symbolism, and their allusions to other works and styles became less overt. It may be difficult to ascertain, however, the motivations behind allusions in the works of certain nineteenth century composers who, unlike Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, were not forthcoming about their allusions or “reminiscences.” Intertextual relationships nevertheless exist in the works of Liszt and his followers that were not identified outright by the composer, and these same relationships may be said to exist in the works of less forthcoming allusory composers like Schumann and Brahms. Huizinga’s theory of metaphor as play helps to conceptualize allusion as a form of play; if rhetorical allusion is play upon words in a text, musical allusion can be play upon motives in a composition. The works of Mikhail Bakhtin, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Harold Bloom offer further context for discussion of how artists interact with other artists’ ideas.

Works: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major Op. 110 (1), Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69 (1), Fidelio (11); Schubert: Mass No. 2 in G Major, D. 167 (10); Haydn: The Creation (11); Mendelssohn: Festgesang zum Gutenbergfest, WoO 9, Lobgesang, Op. 52 (12); Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra (12); Robert Schumann: Frühlings Ankunft (17–19), Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 (21); Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1 (21).

Sources: Johann Sebastian Bach: St. John Passion, BWV 245 (1); Anonymous: Crux fidelis (7-8); Beethoven: Fidelio (10, 17–19), Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 (21); Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (11); Handel: Samson (12); Franz Anton Rösler: Der sterbende Jesus (12); Haydn: The Creation (12), Symphony No. 104 in D Major, H. 1/104 (21); Niels Gade: Frühlings-Phantasie (14).

Index Classifications: General, 1700s, 1800s

Contributed by: Chelsey Belt, Elizabeth Stoner

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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