Bach’s Debt Repaid with Interest: <i>A Case Study of Transformative Imitation</i>

Steven Zohn

in Music for a Mixed Taste

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780195169775
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865536 | DOI:
Bach’s Debt Repaid with Interest: A Case Study of Transformative Imitation

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This chapter explores the musical and aesthetic implications of Johann Sebastian Bach’s previously unrecognized borrowing from a movement by Telemann. To wit, the middle movement of Bach’s F-minor harpsichord concerto BWV 1056, justly celebrated as one of the composer’s “most memorable, singable melodies”, is substantially based upon the first movement of Telemann’s concerto for solo oboe or flute and strings, 51:G2. Unlike many intertextual correspondences that are perhaps too readily presumed to be borrowings, this one goes well beyond the sharing of common melodic and harmonic formulae to suggest a conscious modeling process.

Keywords: Johann Sebastian Bach; singable melodies; borrowing

Chapter.  8554 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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