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View Full Version : Did Beethoven ever feel this way?


Chris
01-23-2001, 06:37 AM
I often try to compose music. Too often, though, I get the feeling that I have copied the themes from somewhere else by accident. I look everywhere, but I can't find a match, so I conclude that I must have come up with it after all. Still, if ever I were to play it for someone, I am deathly afraid they would say, "HEY! That's blah blah blah, you shmuck!"

I wonder if Beethoven ever got that feeling? It's something interesting to think about, anyway.

Rod
01-23-2001, 09:42 AM
Originally posted by Chris:
I often try to compose music. Too often, though, I get the feeling that I have copied the themes from somewhere else by accident. I look everywhere, but I can't find a match, so I conclude that I must have come up with it after all. Still, if ever I were to play it for someone, I am deathly afraid they would say, "HEY! That's blah blah blah, you shmuck!"

I wonder if Beethoven ever got that feeling? It's something interesting to think about, anyway.

There hasn't been a composer borne to didn't take advantage, at least on occasion, of a tune not of their own composition, Beethoven included. But Beethoven was more original than most. According to Gardiner, Beethoven borrowed the famous theme from the 5th Symphony (1st allegro) from a French revolutionary song. I have heard this song and the resemblance it there, but Beethoven's treatment of the theme is vastly developed from this alleged original. Handel borrowed on many occasions. But you must do something with it that is altogether new, and altogether better than the original conception, for you not to be accused of outright plagiarism (and thus Beethoven and Handel, at least, are saved!).

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

PDG
01-23-2001, 12:54 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I often try to compose music. Too often, though, I get the feeling that I have copied the themes from somewhere else by accident. I look everywhere, but I can't find a match, so I conclude that I must have come up with it after all. Still, if ever I were to play it for someone, I am deathly afraid they would say, "HEY! That's blah blah blah, you shmuck!"
I wonder if Beethoven ever got that feeling? It's something interesting to think about, anyway.

Chris,

I think the key word here is confidence. If you`re confident that a tune is yours, then it almost certainly is; if you`re not sure, then it almost certainly is not. Also, if your theme is good, but you find developing it difficult, then again, the theme is probably `lifted`; but if you`re development enhances the theme, then, as a general rule of thumb, it is your `baby`! From personal experience, I know that the mind sometimes tries to protect us from disappointment/reality, and won`t let us believe that a wonderful melody has been thought of before. Until, of course, some spoilsport comes along, and punctures the illusion!

Michael
01-23-2001, 03:02 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I often try to compose music. Too often, though, I get the feeling that I have copied the themes from somewhere else by accident. I look everywhere, but I can't find a match, so I conclude that I must have come up with it after all
I wonder if Beethoven ever got that feeling? It's something interesting to think about, anyway.

I am not trying to lower the tone of this topic, but Paul McCartney had much the same problem with "Yesterday". He awoke one morning with the tune fully formed in his head, and he spent the next few days anxiously asking everyone if they had heard it before. He thought it must have been a tune he heard years before and had fogotten about.
Rod mentions Beethoven using the odd theme from other composers and doing his own thing with them. The opening theme of the "Eroica" was swiped (consciously or otherwise) from an early opera by Mozart. And in the finale of the Fifth Symphony, I hear a theme from the slow movement of the "Jupiter Symphony".
Could all you score-readers check something for me? Are the first few notes of the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony identical to those of the last movement of Mozart's 40th Symphony - I mean in pitch, not rhythm?

Michael

Peter
01-23-2001, 03:47 PM
Originally posted by Michael:

Could all you score-readers check something for me? Are the first few notes of the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony identical to those of the last movement of Mozart's 40th Symphony - I mean in pitch, not rhythm?

Michael



From memory, the first 7 notes of the Mozart 40th finale are the same as a passage from the scherzo, but in a different key - Cmin for Beethoven and G minor for Mozart. Beethoven's 1st sonata also opens in similar fashion to the Mozart.
I don't think it's too hard to find similarities between themes of composers writing tonal music, as many are built on the common arpeggio. As Rod says, it's what you do with the material that counts - just look at the example you quote Michael of Mozart's opera Bastien und Bastienne and Beethoven's Eroica - the same theme, but the works are worlds apart.

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'Man know thyself'



[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 01-23-2001).]

PDG
01-23-2001, 08:58 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Michael:
[B] I am not trying to lower the tone of this topic, but Paul McCartney had much the same problem with "Yesterday". He awoke one morning with the tune fully formed in his head, and he spent the next few days anxiously asking everyone if they had heard it before. He thought it must have been a tune he heard years before and had fogotten about.>>>

Michael, I`m afraid it`s all Scrambled Eggs to me http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/biggrin.gif

By the way, any comparison between the finale intro of K.550 & the 3rd movement intro of Op.67, goes out of the window by the time each composer offers his 2nd bar chord change.

Michael
01-23-2001, 10:07 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by PDG:

Michael, I`m afraid it`s all Scrambled Eggs to me http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/biggrin.gif

McCartney might have stuck with "Scrambled Eggs" if he could have found a rhyme for it.
How about some deliberate musical quotations in Beethoven's work - not counting the Russian themes in the Razumovsky quartets, or those numerous popular airs he used for variations. I suppose the most obvious is the one from the "Messiah" in the last movement of the "Missa Solemnis".

Michael

Chris
01-23-2001, 11:53 PM
You know, I guess I could always claim that I was "quoting"... http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/biggrin.gif

Roehre
11-15-2009, 08:51 PM
Could all you score-readers check something for me? Are the first few notes of the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony identical to those of the last movement of Mozart's 40th Symphony - I mean in pitch, not rhythm?

Michael

Among the sketches for the 5th there is a score copy in Beethoven's hand of the first 25 or so bars of Mozart 40. Thie "quoting" therefore is no coincidence.
The revolutionary song isn't a coincidence, and the similarities between the opening of the finale and a well known German folksong cannot be considered a sheer coincidence either.

But as far as "quoting" is concerned: IMO better something stylistically recognisable than something that literally doesn't have any relationship with other music whatsoever.