Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Gülke, Peter. “Klassik als Erbe und Anspruch: Fragen zum ‘plagiierenden’ Schubert.” In Über das Klassische, ed. Rudolf Bockholdt, 299-309. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1987.

Schubert’s relationship to Viennese musical tradition and his use of conventional procedures has often been interpreted in scholarship as pure imitation or even plagiarism, and thus a foil to understanding him as a truly original composer. Instrumental music in Schubert’s Vienna, however, tended to be uniform and steeped in convention, and the procedures and structures for traditional genres like the symphony were well defined. To label Schubert’s supposedly “imitative” procedures as markers of plagiarism or lack of originality is to ignore the historical context and creative processes of Schubert’s musical world. Even so, a question arises over how to interpret evidence in Schubert’s symphonies that he modeled large sections or even entire movements after works by Mozart and Beethoven. In the first movement of his Symphony No. 2, for instance, Schubert features a false recapitulation (cued by the woodwinds) seemingly inspired by Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, while the slow movement of Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony bears several strong resemblances to the Allegretto of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. While the symphonies composed during Schubert’s late teens can be viewed as the products of a symphonist in training, they also demonstrate some of Schubert’s lifelong stylistic individualisms, such as reminiscences of earlier composers’ music, or reworking traditional procedures from his models in unique and different ways. More general reminiscences can be found in later works such as the String Quintet in C Major, the opening of which can be heard as an extended reworking of the beginning of Haydn’s Symphony No. 97. More specifically, Schubert’s strategies for first-movement recapitulations in several symphonies reveal a composer who is steeped in traditional procedures, while simultaneously developing his own individual voice and seeking out ways to move beyond them.

Works: Schubert: Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, D. 125 (301, 306-8), Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 125 (301), Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959 (302), Rondo in B Minor for Violin and Piano, D. 895 (302), String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 (302, 304), Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 ("The Great") (302-6), String Quartet in A Minor, D. 804 (303), Octet in F Major, D. 803 (303), Die Götter Greichenlands, D. 677 (303).

Sources: Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 (300-1), Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ("Jupiter") (300-1); Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 16 in G Major, Op. 31, No. 1 (302), Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 ("Kreutzer") (302); Haydn: Symphony No. 97 in C Major, Hob. I:97 (302); Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (302-3, 307).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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