Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Reynolds, Christopher Alan. “Motives for Allusion.” In Motives for Allusion: Context and Content in Nineteenth-Century Music, 162-82. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Nineteenth-century composers’ use of allusions serves as a source of musical creativity and can be associated with the concept of Romantic irony, whereby composers engage in a form of intellectual play with listeners. Harold Bloom’s theory of the “anxiety of influence,” which is concerned mainly with personal struggle, does not account for instances of appropriation of lesser sources such as folk tunes. Allusions can be seen as a rhetorical technique composers employ to create symbolism and irony; listeners are turned away from the obvious and are constantly challenged to search for hidden musical relationships in order to arrive at a personal interpretation. An allusive relationship can be subjected to ahistorical reading; new symbols constantly reinterpret old ones, contributing to a two-way transfer of meaning. Just as a composer’s criticism of his predecessor reveals his own artistic ideals, motivic allusions, whether assimilative or contrastive, reveals the composer’s personal compositional aspirations. Non-programmatic composers who employ musical allusions have the freedom to transform motives beyond recognition, requiring listeners to come up with their own personal programs, while programmatic composers impose their programs on listeners. A fundamental criterion in the assessment of a successful allusion is whether its presence in a new work is musically successful by itself. If one misses the allusion, it merely means that one loses a dimension in the appreciation of the work.

Works: Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1 (167), Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 (167), Warum ist das Licht gegeben dem Mühseligen, Op. 74, No. 1 (167), Über die See, Op. 69, No. 7 (168), Wehe, so willst du mich wieder, Op. 32, No. 5 (168); Robert Schumann: Album für die Jugend, Op. 68 (170); Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (174); Robert Schumann: Vogel als Prophet, Op. 82 (180), Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17 (181).

Sources: Beethoven: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 106 (“Hammerklavier”) (167), Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”) (167), Fidelio, Op. 72 (167); Robert Schumann: Trio in D Minor, Op. 63 (167); Mendelssohn: Vocal-Chor zum Abendsegen, WoO 12 (168); Robert Schumann: Hoch, hoch sind die Berge, Op. 138, No. 8 (168); Clara Schumann: Piano Sonata in G Minor (168); Mendelssohn: Andante cantabile e presto agitato, WoO 6 (168), Elijah, Op. 70 (168); Gluck: Armide, Wq. 45 (174); Mendelssohn: Im Walde, Op. 41, No. 1 (180); Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98 (181).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Jingyi Zhang

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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