Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Dienst, Karl. "Die 'Marseiller Hymne der Reformazion.'" Zeitschrift der Luther-Gesellschaft 59, no. 1 (1988): 29-44.

Luther's chorale Ein feste Burg represents not only a religious message but also a symbol of the identity of all Protestants. Its many settings reflect both its religious and its cultural impact. Many composers identified with the revolutionary spirit the Reformation and saw the potential of the tune as a symbol of the time and its historical significance. Depending on the political context in which composers used the tune, the meaning of it changed. For example, Meyerbeer used it in Les Huguenots as a gesture to Protestantism, even though the tune was not necessarily a historical emblem for Huguenots. Mendelssohn's symphonic setting added a programmatic element to the tune. Debussy, on the other hand, used the tune in wartime by evoking it as a symbol of German aggression. He juxtaposed the tune with French anthem, La Marseillaise, which musically triumphs over Ein feste Burg in the end. The various settings of the tune also allow it to assume a multifarious spectrum in that it can be meaningful in an ecumenical sense. Essentially, it became a "banner Lied" for faithful believers and critics across centuries of use.

Works: Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots (36); Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Reformation (37-39); Debussy: En blanc et noir (39-40).

Sources: Luther: Ein feste Burg (29-34, 40-41).

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Katie Lundeen

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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