Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Marx, Hans Joachim. “Handel’s Years as an Apprentice to Reinhard Keiser at the Gänsemarkt Opera House in Hamburg (1703-1705).” Trans. Frank Latino, Jeannette Getzin, and Richard G. King. In Handel Studies: A Gedenkschrift for Howard Serwer, ed. Richard G. King, 25-45. Festschrift Series 22. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2009. Translated from “Händels Lehrjahre an der Gänsemarkt-Oper in Hamburg unter Reinhard Keiser (1703-1705).” In Aspekte der Musik des Barock: Aufführungspraxis und Stil, ed. Siegfried Schmalzriedt, 343-59. Veröffentlichungen der Internationalen Händel-Akademie Karlsruhe 8. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2006. English version reprinted in Handel, ed. David Vickers, 471-91. The Baroque Composers. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.

In his youth, Handel became acquainted with contemporary Italian opera during his travels to Berlin, Weißenfelser, and elsewhere, so he was already well-versed in the genre by the time he arrived in Hamburg, aged 18, to work at the Gänsemarkt Opera under Reinhard Keiser. During his two-year apprenticeship as both a performer and composer, he further familiarized himself with the art form’s inner workings, and he gained valuable formative experience from the musicians, the extensive archive of operatic repertory, and the overall quality of the theater’s productions. Handel also gained much from Keiser himself, learning the importance of a good libretto, sensitivity to text, and careful dramatic pacing in operatic composition. Keiser’s influence can be witnessed in some of Handel’s early works, as Handel incorporates a number of melodic passages from Keiser’s operas in his cantata Arresta il passo HWV 83 and his opera Teseo HWV 9. Notably, though, rather than simply copying Keiser’s melodies, Handel combines disparate melodic segments into completely new passages while making several alterations to the rhythm, meter, tempo, and musical structure of the source material. This procedure, “varied borrowing” (“verändernde Übernahme”), was a common compositional technique for budding composers in Handel’s day and reflects the practice of “moduli” as described in Johann Mattheson’s Vollkommene Capellmeister. A table outlining Handel’s complete borrowings from Keiser is included.

Works: Handel: Arresta il passo HWV 83 (42-43), Teseo HWV 9 (43-44).

Sources: Reinhard Keiser: Octavia (32-39, 42), Du schöne Morgenröthe (42-43), La forza della virtù (43).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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