Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Parmer, Dillon R. “Musical Meaning for the Few: Instances of Private Reception in the Music of Brahms.” Current Musicology (April 2007).

Although Brahms is widely received as a champion of absolute music, he often transmitted programmatic clues to his intimate circle while publicly distancing his music from extramusical association, leading to a double reception history. One mode of private reception in Brahms’s music comes from clues left by Brahms in personal correspondence. In one instance, Brahms made references to rain and plagiarism to ensure his correspondents would recognize his song settings of Regenlied and Nachklang as models for his Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78. Another mode of private reception is Brahms’s use of inscriptions in his autograph scores. Brahms also sent full poetic texts alongside some of his compositions sent to close friends and even received response poems for Opp. 118 and 119. One anonymous poem that Brahms distributed to close friends, a response to the Intermezzo in E-flat Major, Op. 118, No. 6, offers a programmatic reading of the piece that may suggest an affinity between its main theme and the Dies irae. With these extramusical aids, it is evident that much of Brahms’s music is private program music, and a more complete picture of Brahms can be found by studying the traces of this reception history.

Works: Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 (111), Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78 (113-14), Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100 (114), Intermezzo in E-flat Minor, Op. 118, No. 6 (122-23)

Sources: Schubert: Am Meer from Schwanengesang, D 957 (111); Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98 (111); Brahms: Regenlied, Op. 59, No. 3 (113-14), Nachklang, Op. 59, No. 4 (113-14), Komm bald, Op. 97, No. 5 (114), Immer leise wird mein Schlummer, Op. 105, No. 2 (114); attributed to Thomas of Celano: Dies irae (122-23)

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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