Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Fulcher, Jane. "Speaking the Truth to Power: The Dialogic Element in Debussy's Wartime Compositions." In Debussy and His World, ed. Jane Fulcher, 203-34. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

One of the most striking elements in Debussy's wartime compositions, including the piano sonata En blanc et noir and the song Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison, among other pieces, is his tendency to politicize his music. He wrote during a time in which the French government had great control over cultural products, and his musical language reflects this. Accompanying this polemic are notable instances of borrowing in En blanc et noir and Noël des enfants. Debussy dedicated the second movement of En blanc et noir, "Lent et sombre," to his friend Lt. Jacques Charlot, who was killed in World War I. In order to create a solemn character, Debussy used nonfunctional and static harmonies, evoking a "funeral drone." In doing so, he stylistically alluded to the Renaissance tombeau, a piece to mourn the dead, often used by Clément Janequin. Further, he used Luther's hymn Ein feste Burg within a discordant setting, deliberately removing it of its triumphal qualities. In Noël des enfants, Debussy also used stylistic allusion, in this case to Schubert, by recalling the "menacing" and "ironic" character of Erlkönig. He evoked the spirit of Schubert's song by using a child as the subject of the song and by composing a fast-paced, vigorous accompaniment. In addition, Debussy employed structural modeling by basing the song on a Lied. His instances of borrowing serve a larger role within the political framework of the French republic.

Works: Debussy: En blanc et noir (216-20); Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison (220).

Sources: Luther: Ein feste Burg (218-19); Schubert: Erlkönig (220).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Katie Lundeen

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