Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Flothuis, Marius. “Kapellmeistermusik.” In Mahler-Interpretation: Aspekte zum Werk und Wirken Gustav Mahlers, ed. Rudolf Stephan, 9-16. Mainz: Schott, 1985.

Mahler scholarship occasionally invokes the term “Kapellmeistermusik” to describe the eclecticism and variety in the composer’s music. This eclecticism, which resulted in part due to Mahler’s background as a conductor, is commonly assumed to be intentional, implying that Mahler deliberately quoted other works for listeners to identify and interpret. But Mahler’s eclecticism, and the relationships between his own music and existing works, can be far more complicated than is often assumed. Some of the parallels between Mahler’s works and those of other composers may have been coincidental, and in other cases Mahler may have “unconsciously” referenced an existing piece because he was familiar with it. Although one can identify several correspondences and quotations from other works in Mahler’s music, some are more likely to be intentional (either consciously or unconsciously) than others. Additionally, a case for borrowing in Mahler’s works cannot be made based on musical analysis alone, as other kinds of supplemental evidence can either reinforce or undercut the possibility of a connection between pieces. One can argue, for example, that Mahler could have borrowed a melody from Liszt’s Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major for his Sixth Symphony, given the close similarities between the two themes and the strong likelihood that Mahler knew Liszt’s concerto as both a pianist and conductor. On the other hand, the parallels between Schubert’s song Mainacht, D. 194, and the first song of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen are likely coincidental, as Mainacht was first published posthumously in 1894, almost a decade after Mahler composed his song cycle. Some possible borrowings from works by Berlioz, Chabrier, and Bizet require further research but may be significant.

Works: Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major (10), Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (10), Symphony No. 6 in A Minor (“Tragic”) (10-11), Symphony No. 1 in D Major (“Titan”) (11), Das klagende Lied (11, 13), Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (11-12), Symphony No. 7 (13), Symphony No. 10 (13), Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (“Resurrection”) (13-14), Symphony No. 9 (13, 15-16), Symphony No. 5 (16).

Sources: Schubert: Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, D. 568 (10), Piano Sonata in D Major, D. 850 (10), Liszt: Spanish Rhapsody, S. 254 (10); Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68 (10); Beethoven: String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135 (10); Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, S. 124 (10-11); Schubert: Piano Sonata in A Minor, D. 784 (11); Chopin: Ballade in G Minor, Op. 23 (11); Schubert: Mainacht, D. 194 (11-12); Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425 (“Linz”) (12); Weber: “Schreckensschwur” Aria from Oberon (12); Wagner: Siegfried (13), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (13); Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, WAB 109 (13); Berlioz: Les francs-juges, H 23 (13-14); Chabrier: Gwendoline (13, 15-16); Bizet: L’Arlésienne (16).

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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