Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Gooley, Dana. "La Commedia del Violino: Paganini's Comic Strains." Music and Culture 88 (2005): 370-427.

During his 1828 tour, Nicolò Paganini gained a reputation as a romantic virtuoso that to the present day has obscured the influences of Italian comedy on his compositions, in which his groundbreaking techniques often suggest not rarified virtuosity, but rather farcical gestures and drama. For example, Paganini's imitations of animal sounds surpass mere mimicry and imply comic character types, and his evocations of human voices can suggest operatic dialogue (and in the case of Scène amoureuse, modeling on "Là ci darem la mano" from Mozart's Don Giovanni). Paganini's many variation sets, often upon themes from operas familiar to his audiences, further demonstrate his ability to transform a snippet of borrowed material into a compelling and self-contained drama through rapid changes in register and special effects, which are characteristic of a category of his works that can be called mélange. Recognizing Paganini's apparent debt to the aesthetics as well as the music of opera buffa, farsa, and grottesco ballet in his mélanges helps explain the often unoriginal and seemingly ridiculous nature of his mélanges.

Works: Paganini: Scène amoureuse (382-83, 397), Le streghe (383-85, 390-92, 401-2, 415), Nel cor più mi sento (386-87), I palpiti (387); Robert Schumann: Carnaval (409-412).

Sources: Mozart: Don Giovanni (382); Rossini: Di tanti palpiti (387); Franz Xaver Süssmayr and Salvatore Viganò: La noce di Benevento (390-92); Paganini: Carnival of Venice (397-99, 410-12).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Virginia Whealton

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