Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Frankenbach, Chantal. “Dancing to Beethoven in Wilhelmine Germany: Isadora Duncan and Her Critics.” Journal of Musicology 34 (Winter 2017): 71-114.

Isadora Duncan’s dances set to the music of Beethoven and other German composers greatly dismayed the German musical press, who saw her appropriation of classical music as threatening the barriers between high musical art and common vaudeville entertainment. When Duncan performed in Germany from 1902 to 1904, she achieved great public success and enthusiasm for her barefoot dancing style. Duncan’s aim of elevating the art of dance was often met with derision in certain press circles who framed her work as pretentious. Theater composer Oscar Straus’s contribution to the vaudeville dance-satire Die Tugendglocke lampoons Duncan’s intrusion into classical music spheres. His parody became so popular that he created a piano arrangement of the scene, titled Isadora Duncan: Musikalische Parodie. Several famous themes from great (mostly German) composers are deformed and combined with a simplistic “eins, zwei, drei” dance theme. The understanding of this parody necessitates the audience knowing of Duncan’s dances as well as the backlash she received in critical circles. Duncan was particularly vilified in the German classical music press—among her harshest critics was composer Max Reger—for her use of Beethoven’s music, often described in the sexist terms of “corrupting” the masculine ideal of German high art. This reaction underscores the transgressive nature of Duncan’s dance.

Works: Edmond Diet, Julius Einödshofer, Curt Goldmann, Max Schmidt, O. Translateur, and Oscar Straus: Die Tugendglocke (90); Oscar Straus: Isadora Duncan: Musikalische Parodie, Op. 135 (90-99)

Sources: Edmond Diet, Julius Einödshofer, Curt Goldmann, Max Schmidt, O. Translateur, and Oscar Straus: Die Tugendglocke (90); Wagner: Tannhäuser (93-99); Gluck: Orfeo (93-99); Chopin: Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 (93-99); Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (“Moonlight”) (93-99); Johann Strauss: On the Beautiful Blue Danube (93-99)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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