Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Krämer, Ulrich. "Quotation and Self-Borrowing in the Music of Alban Berg." Journal of Musicological Research 12 (1992): 53-82.

Despite Adorno's interpretation of Berg's quotation practice as deliberately disjunct, Berg's quotations are painstakingly incorporated into the surrounding musical context, as demonstrated by an analysis of his use of the Carinthian folk song in his Violin Concerto. Berg's quotations fall into four categories: (1) Quotations from Schoenberg, especially Schoenberg's early works; (2) thematic references to works from different stylistic spheres which Berg incorporates into his own idiom; (3) quotations in Wozzeck and Lulu that function as ironic commentary on the stage action; (4) quotations that form an integral part of the surrounding motivic network. The folk-song quotation in the Violin Concerto is an example of the last type. Berg's self-borrowings are largely from a collection of early sonata fragments, dating from 1908 to 1909, and are also of the fourth category. The quotations may work simultaneously on a variety of levels: as the sort of technical problem Berg requires as a creative stimulus; as representative of Berg's desire to retrieve musical ideas important to the evolution of his musical language; and as reminiscences of his period of study with Schoenberg. There is detailed discussion of these self-borrowings as they appear in Wozzeck and the String Quartet, Op. 3. The article's appendix offers a detailed list of Berg's works in which borrowings have been identified and the sources of the borrowings.

Works: Berg: Four Songs, Op. 2, String Quartet, Op. 3, Wozzeck, Chamber Concerto, Lyric Suite,Lulu, Violin Concerto.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: David Lieberman

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