Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Buelow, George J. "Handel's Borrowing Techniques: Some Fundamental Questions Derived from a Study of Agrippina (Venice, 1709)." Göttinger Händel-Beiträge 2 (1986): 105-28.

Handel relied more than most composers on reuse and reworking of existing material. However, the majority of these instances should not be classified as borrowings. The notion of constructive principles, or using models and common formulas, was essential to the Baroque style. Therefore scholars should exercise caution in labeling passages as "borrowings" based only on a melodic motive or measure of similarity. For example, the arias No. 22, "Cade il mondo," from Agrippina, and "Caddi, e ver" from La Resurrezione, are likely modeled on "Fällt ihr Mächtigen" from Keiser's opera Nebucadnezar. The similar harmonic sequence, as well as the common motive, provide convincing evidence that this is indeed a borrowing. On the other hand, the aria "Sperero," labeled by Bernd Baselt as a borrowing from Rodrigo, appears to be similar only in the opening motive of the voice part, and this evidence is not conclusive enough to classify the passage as a borrowing. Clarification of terminology will help to remedy these misunderstandings regarding Handel's borrowing techniques. "Parody" should be restricted to literal or almost literal reuses of material with a different text, where structure and musical substance remains intact. Literal repetition of the same piece, including the text, should be termed "reuse." "Reworking" defines a musical idea that has been modified, and "new work" describes those works which use brief motives or themes to form a new piece. Also, Handel frequently does not match new texts with similar Affections in his use of preexistent material in Agrippina. An appendix summarizes the sources for Agrippina and the ways Handel uses them.

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Brian Phillips

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