Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Klenz, William. "Brahms, Op. 38; Piracy, Pillage, Plagiarism or Parody?" The Music Review 34 (February 1973): 39-50.

Brahms's Cello Sonata in E Minor is so closely patterned on the E minor cello sonata of Bernhard Romberg that it could be considered a parody, using the sixteenth-century definition of the term. Besides the obvious connection of the key, the choice of opus number and other musical details suggest that Brahms modeled his sonata on that of Romberg. Both utilize similar tempo markings and harmonic progressions. Combinations of Romberg's first and third movement themes appear throughout Brahms' composition, and much of the original accompaniment also appears in reworked form. Some of the more contrapuntal passages seem to derive from Bach. It is possible that Brahms's familiarity with Romberg's work is due to the influence of his friend Gänsbacher, who might have pressed the composer into accompanimental duties. Perhaps Brahms's cello sonata, patterned so closely on Romberg's, was the result of improvisations over Romberg's accompaniment and a subsequent reworking of its ideas.

Works: Brahms: Cello Sonata in E Minor.

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Elisabeth Honn

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