Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bartók, Béla. “The Relation of Folk-Song to the Development of the Art Music of Our Time.” In Béla Bartók Essays, ed. Benjamin Suchoff, 320-30. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1976.

There is a distinct difference between popular art music and real folk music. Authentic folk music (better identified as peasant music) comprises melodies that are representative and uniform among the peasant class in a nation. It is a natural phenomenon that is instinctive, and requires artistic perfection. Conversely, popular art music is derived from primarily Western art music and a hint of peasant music, giving the music an exotic flavor. Nationalism in the nineteenth century increased the demand for a national sound, but rather than looking at peasant music, the focus was on popular art music. Composers of art music rarely encountered authentic peasant music, and, as such, the vague allusion to peasant music is essentially an obscured view of the original.

There are some composers whose music originates in peasant music, most notably Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, and even Beethoven. While Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps is likely one of the best examples of works to include authentic peasant music, Stravinsky still attempts to put peasant music in a structure it was not meant to be in, thereby ignoring musical characteristics inherent to the music he borrows. In numerous symphonies by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, Slavonic peasant music is suggested, primarily the final movements. Croatian melodies are found in Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D Major, as well as in two movements of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony.

Works: Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps (325); Haydn: Symphony No. 104 in D Major (328); Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major (“Pastoral”), Op. 68 (328).

Sources: Franjo Ksaver Kuhač: Južno-slovjenske narvodne popievke (327).

Index Classifications: General, 1900s

Contributed by: Nicolette van den Bogerd

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