Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Abraham, Gerald. "The Folk-Song Element." Chap. in Studies in Russian Music. London: W. Reeves, [1935].

In the use of folk tunes, Glinka was concerned with nothing more than stringing them together into frankly popular fantasias. Efforts of later composers to fuse these tunes into complicated musical organisms (sonata-form on the symphonic scale) failed, according to Abraham, (1) because folk songs are not suited to such treatment and (2) because these composers had a fundamentally wrong conception of Russian folk music as homophonic. The discovery of the polyphonic nature of a great deal of Russian folk-music came just too late to influence the development of Russian art music. The only successful symphonic handling of folk tunes was a matter of "good taste," being shown in the avoidance of virtuosity in the treatment of the material and in not making it an excuse for "talking about oneself." To absorb a great deal of the folk idiom (as Mussorgsky did) and invent original themes from that root was a more successful way to get around the implications of using an original folk tune.

Works: Borodin: Prince Igor (46); Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 1 (47), Symphony in F Minor (48f), 1812 Overture (48); Rimsky-Korsakov: Hundred Russian Folk-Songs, Op. 24 (47f), Overture on Russian Themes (48), Easter Festival Overture (54), Capriccio Espagnol (54), Sinfonietta, Op. 31 (55); Balakirev: Overture on Three Russian Themes in B Minor (48), A Thousand Years (52f.); Beethoven: String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2 (55); Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (55).

Sources: Sidel Vanyz (47), Vo pole bereza stoyala (48), "Over the field creeps the mist" (56).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Andreas Giger

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