Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kemp, Ian. "Romeo and Juliet and Roméo et Juliette." In Berlioz Studies, ed. Peter Bloom, 37-79. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Like the Symphonie fantastique,Roméo et Juliette includes borrowings from earlier works. A passage of recitative in the Roméo "Introduction" resembles a motif in the "Méditation" from the 1829 Prix de Rome cantata Cléopâtre. Berlioz himself explained the inspiration behind the Cléopâtre music, indicating that he intended the "Méditation" for a Roméo et Juliette of some sort. A melody from the withdrawn Ballet des ombres, in particular from the section referring to an invitation to a dance, appears with the same meaning in "La Reine Mab," at the place where Mab is about to take the young girl to the ball. The Larghetto oboe melody and the dance theme from "Roméo seul" derive from the cantata Sardanapale (1830), with which Berlioz actually won the Prix de Rome. From this cantata survive only a fragment of the finale "Incendie" and Peter Bloom's reconstruction of the text. The fragment contains the two themes mentioned above, but the Larghetto melody likely also formed the basis of the "Cavatine" and the allegro theme the basis of the "Bacchanale" that preceded the "résumé-cum-coda" fragment. In both the cantata and "Roméo seul" the themes are associated with arousing and intensifying desire.

Works: Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette (53-59).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Andreas Giger

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