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    Brahms archeology

    edited October 2014 in Questions

    We know that lots of Brahms's compositions use found material. Sometimes it is his own, sometimes not. The literature ripples with discussion of examples.

    Here's a new one, which does not seem ever to have been mentioned in the literature, the affinity between the opening idea of the A major violin sonata, Op. 100, and a half bar, plucked out notationally but I wonder if also creatively by Brahms, in the half bar four bars before the end of Chopin's exquisite Etude No. 6 in E-flat minor, Op. 10:

     

    Jonathan Dunsby

    Professor of Music Theory

    Eastman School of Music

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    • Sorry the Chopin extract didn't make it into the window. Will try again:

      Jonathan Dunsby

      Professor of Music Theory

      Eastman School of Music

    • That's very interesting! May I share my own observation? Messiaen used a lot of found material himself (he did, didn't he). I've noticed that he used the same motif in two very different pieces. The piano prelude is from 1929, and Le Tombeau resplendissant from 1931 (the 51st and 49th second respectively)








    • Yes indeed Pawel. On the other hand, Messiaen devoted much creative energy to the transcription and musical realization of birdsong, and to me that suggests a different attitude towards found material than Brahms's. But you're right, I'm sure, that it's all part of the bigger picture. My motivation in starting this thread, further to some recent interesting conversations with fellow musicians, is that I suspect when it comes to Brahms we don't know the half of it. Instinct tells me that the collective mighty musical knowledge of SMT members contains more Brahms borrowings (if that's also an appropriate term) than we can read about in the literature.

      Jonathan Dunsby

      Professor of Music Theory

      Eastman School of Music

    • Here is Jonathan's Chopin example: 

      SMT Discuss Manager
      smtdiscuss@societymusictheory.org
      Somewhere in the Universe
    • A striking example, Jonathan! With a difference, however: the Chopin has 6/4 on the second bass note (B), the Brahms 6. Could one derive from this subtle discrepance a divergence of harmonic traditions (French school vs Bach)? ;-)

      Michele Ignelzi

      Conservatorio di Musica, Florence, Italy

    • Michele, you're right that of the two possible straightforward ways to elaborate the voice-exchange (3-1 over 1-3 in the bass), Chopin opts for one, Brahms for the other (without exception throughout the violin sonata movement), and in that respect (and other respects) these bars are admittedly chalk and cheese. No comment on your harmonic tradition generalization ;-) except to say that this Etude of Chopin is the most Brahmsian of compositions--IMHO and whatever that means--in all Chopin, which I know is a critically crude comment unworthy of the SMT imprimatur...

      Jonathan Dunsby

      Professor of Music Theory

      Eastman School of Music

    • Jonathan, I'm not sure that 6/4 on 2 in the bass could always be considered straightforward. My point (not clearly expressed, I must admit) was that it is not in the connection Bach-Brahms, where 6 (more rarely, 4/3) is the common solution.

      To stay at your initial hint, what if Brahms "plucked out" that half bar and "Brahmsized" it? ;-)

      Michele Ignelzi

      Conservatorio di Musica, Florence, Italy

    • Makes sense to me Michele. Even more sense than the Chopin 7ii / Brahms 116ii connection (or "symbiosis" as he calls it) in Hartmut Braun, Die Musikforschung, 25/3m 1972.

      Jonathan Dunsby

      Professor of Music Theory

      Eastman School of Music

    • Though I haven't looked for it explicitly, I haven't seen any mention of the "second theme" of the B minor Rhapsody (~1:47 in the recording provided) as being borrowed from Grieg's "Aase's Death" from Peer Gynt. Originally, I thought it might have been the other way around, but the date of composition tells a different story.

      Both the melody, the accompaniment, and the sequential shift up a fourth makes it impossible to make the association. If anyone has more information on this connection, I would greatly appreciate it.



      Devin Chaloux

      Indiana University

    • Will you forgive me if I mention 2 more occurences of the exact same motif used by Messiaen?

      Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus (1944):



      1:06:19


      Concert à quatre (1991):



      00:28


       



       

      I'll start a separate thread, if that's ok.