Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Thormählen, Wiebke. “Playing with Art: Musical Arrangements as Educational Tools in van Swieten’s Vienna.” Journal of Musicology 27 (Summer 2010): 342-76.

Arrangements of large-scale vocal works for instrumental chamber ensembles in early nineteenth-century Vienna inspired their performers’ inner senses through physical engagement with a piece of music, superseding the moral meaning of the text. The many versions of Haydn’s The Creation, including several variations linked to Haydn himself, demonstrate the fluidity of the oratorio. Anton Wranitzky’s arrangement for string quintet (published in 1800) sets The Creation in its entirety, including recitatives. Each performer “recites” the text of the oratorio instrumentally; the recitative text is printed in the parts to assist in phrasing and tone (the arias are printed without text). The quintet arrangement also foregrounds the engagement of mind and body in realizing the intricacies of chamber performance. This understanding of the function of musical arrangements is contextualized by the philosophy of Gottfried van Swieten, librettist for The Creation and President of the Court Commission on Education. Van Swieten advocated for a system of empirical learning with important texts (music included) taught partly via “pleasurable repetition.” To this end, the adaptability of art was essential, and van Swieten regularly held salons that included Bach arrangements, theater pantomime games, and tableaux vivants. Considered in this context, chamber arrangements of large-scale musical works become an essential tool in the establishment of an enlightened society.

Works: Anton Wranitzky: Die Schöpfung: Ein musikalisches Oratorium von Herrn Joseph Haydn übersetzt in Quintetten (350-60)

Sources: Joseph Haydn: The Creation (350-60)

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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