Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Dennison, Peter. "Elgar and Wagner." Music and Letters 66 (April 1985): 93-109.

The music of Wagner exerted a strong influence on Elgar. This influence is evident in the thematic cohesion and chromatic harmony of Elgar's music. It is also evident in the many allusions and reminiscences of particular passages in Wagner, listed here in pairs (Elgar/Wagner): (1) Froissart, Op. 19/love duet from Die Walküre and "Prize Song" from Die Meistersinger; (2) The Black Knight, Op. 25/Prelude to Siegfried and "magic sleep" from the Ring; (3) The Light of Life, Op. 29/Act 2/2 and Act 3/2 from Parsifal; (4) Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf, Op. 3O/Die Meistersinger; (5) Te Deum/"trial song" from Die Meistersinger; (6) Caractacus/the "ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre, Act 2 from Die Meistersinger, Act 2 from Siegfried, and Tannhäuser; (7) The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38/start of Parsifal and the "ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre; (8) Second Symphony, Tristan (final cadential progression). Most of these allusions are probably subconscious, although Elgar was consciously aware of the significance of Wagner to his creative workings. Wagner had a profound influence on Elgar, especially in his first two periods of composition. Elgar had the opportunity to both hear and perform many of Wagner's works, and Dennison discusses these and Elgar's comments on Wagner in great detail. Many of Elgar's quotations from Wagner only bear superficial resemblance. Very often, however, Elgar uses a Wagnerian leitmotif in passages with similar programmatic or dramatic implications. Elgar is also heavily indebted to Wagner for many compositional techniques. In his later compositions Elgar does not rely on Wagner as often, but sometimes draws specific parallels for dramatic or psychological effect. Dennison includes an appendix of works by Wagner heard or performed by Elgar.

Works: Elgar: The Black Knight, Op. 25; The Light of Life, Op. 29; Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf, Op. 30; Te Deum and Benedictus, Op. 34; Caractacus, Op. 35; The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38; Second Symphony, Op 63.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: David C. Birchler, Will Sadler

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