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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Apologies for sounding like (and being) such a n00b, but...

Not two weeks ago I discovered the wonderful melody in the second movement of Beethoven's fifth violin sonata "Spring". I decided it was one of my favorites and even contributed it to the L'Enfer memorial thread.

Imagine my surprise, then, when yesterday I'm listening to Mozart's violin sonatas, and I hear what is (to a first approximation at least) the exact same movement! For all intents and purposes Beethoven "borrowed" the entire second movement of Mozart's violin sonata #35 (1787) and used it for his violin sonata #5 (1801). Of course the notes aren't exactly the same, but both movements are very similar explorations of the exact same melody. This is not a brief musical reference in passing, this is wholesale recycling!

Given Beethoven's demonstrated ability to produce variations, he certainly didn't need to be so blatant in his copying. Did Beethoven acknowledge this usage of Mozart's earlier work? Did Beethoven's audience notice and appreciate this homage to Mozart? Or was LvB just being a bit lazy? I didn't find any mention of this similarity in Wikipedia.

Have any other Talk Classical readers been as shocked to discover examples of what might be called plagiarism today?
 

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I don't have the time to point out exactly where, but there is a haunting sequence of a about 8 notes in Strauss' Alpensinfonie which I think resembles a part of Bruch's famous first violin concerto very strongly.
 

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There's a lot of Mozart in Beethoven, but I doubt any of it is plagiarism. Go one minute into this and you'll hear an ancestor of Beethoven's choral symph.

But did Beethoven ever hear this music by Mozart? And would his last word on the symphony be a steal? I doubt the answer to either question would be affirmative.

He may have heard this, but his use of it is more like he's referencing the work, rather than imitating it or passing it off as his own. Most great composers/artists work the same way.

By the way, what's the Kochel number for "Mozart's violin sonata #35 (1787)?"

Cheers! :tiphat:
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kieran: K.526. I have it on a very nice disc by Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu.
 

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Kieran: K.526. I have it on a very nice disc by Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu.
Thanks BPS! Just listening now to Beethoven's Spring second movement. There's a vague similarity, to my ears, but it's not overly explicit. I wouldn't haul him across the coals over it. It's like a Beethoven version of a similar idea, with a very similar effect, but I'm not qualified to say further, like whether they're in the same key or if there are any giveaway signs here. It doesn't smack of plagiarism, to me, but if it was anyone else but Beethoven, I'd certainly flag the Mozartean range of it...

EDIT: I adore the second movement of K526, by the way. One of the purist, most beautiful movements I've ever heard...
 

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I was amused when I realized that the first movement of Haydn's 5th Baryton Trio, in A Major, was an arrangement of Che faró senza Euridice of Gluck provenance!

Haydn never hid that fact, though, so I suspect that it wouldn't count as plagiarism. Or?
 

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Is plagiarism limited to the stealing of melodies? Beethoven looked to Mozart pretty specifically on a number of occasions. Compare his Piano Quintet Op. 16 with Mozart's kv 452 in the same key -- the tunes are different but Mozart was clearly LvB's model (not a new observation).

Similarly, listen to the first-movement intro of LvB's Op. 59 No. 3 string quartet -- where did the idea for this come from if not Mozart's intro to his "Dissonance" quartet?
 

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From well before Bach, a tradition of taking a theme and working it in as a basis of another piece has been in place.

Just look at the 'Missa Parodia' tradition, where one or many other well-known tunes or themes are incorporated into a work. One of the most famous being the French popular song from the middle ages, "L'homme armé." The tune was used, in whole, in part, as the very slow bass line, or inverted, or retrograded, etc. and an entire work written from that springboard.
Johannes Ockeghem and Guillaume Dufay are but two of many early composers to have composed a "Missa l'Homme Armé."

In Pérotin's "Viderunt omnes" a commonly used plainchant became the bass line, very slow motion and 'drone' like, for that polyphonic work. The melody of the chant is so slowed down, it is rather a series of pedal tones over which all the other activity happens.

Fast forwarding, we get J.S. Bach, famous for wholesale stealing whole chunks of Vivaldi fiddle concerti and turning them into keyboard concerti, and grabbing whatever suited his purpose or piqued his interest.

Later again, that famous first four-note theme of the five-themed finale of Mozart's Jupiter symphony had a predecessor: in one Haydn symphony, I've forgotten which, Haydn's finale had the identical four notes, same intervals intact, identical rhythm as the theme for one of his symphonic finales. Whether Mozart knew of the Haydn or not is unknown.

Haydn arranged a lot of things, apart from composing the Austrian National Anthem, which we now know as "Deutschland über alles," Haydn set folk and popular songs, and 'used what he might' when he wanted. Handel 'pirated' his own work when composing the Messiah! It was also common to compose a work or variations on a popular opera aria or secular tune of the day.

That one composer and the next, close in time, should come up with material so similar that you think they borrowed or stole it is not as surprising as you might think. And, composers did often just grab something outright and work with it.

Throughout music history, certain shorter motifs, and a particular 'shape' of melody, i.e. a very particular contour, have been 'fashionable' or common coin of some time or another. Those popular contours might be a line which first climbs, hesitates, an then drops a minor sixth (to make up an example): with just that much in common, it is easy enough to think that one composer directly copied another, where it is just as possible each composer 'plucked it out of thin air' without having heard the other's tune.

The most critical thing about all the classical 'borrowing' or 'steal outright,' is that when done, the composer who had taken anothers material really made something new enough that it could then be truly considered 'their own.'

Too, if today, Mozart had used that four-note theme already penned in the Haydn symphony, Haydn's heirs, his estate, and / or his publisher's would be having their attorneys send a letter to Herr Mozart, announcing a lawsuit for infringement of copyright :)

Today, if you used John William's main theme from 'Star Wars' as the drone bass for your 'Missa Parodia Star Wars' - all those who contracted the music and the publishers would be instantly breathing down your neck, even if Mr. Williams was both pleased and delighted with what you had done with that little ditty.
 

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Haydn set folk and popular songs, and 'used what he might' when he wanted. He 'pirated' his own work when composing the Messiah!
Surely you mean that other "H" guy! Who (BTW) is supposed to have said something like, "Certainly I used his tune. The idiot didn't know what to do with it. I did."
 

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Surely you mean that other "H" guy! Who (BTW) is supposed to have said something like, "Certainly I used his tune. The idiot didn't know what to do with it. I did."
Yes, corrected, and thank you.

These little collegial bumps are traditionally done in PM's, even though all such slips are of no consequence as per 'embarrassment,' it is a tradition you may have missed out on in your personal experiences.

Best regards.
 

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"Somewhere" From Bernstein's "West Side Story" is very similar to the theme from the second movement of Beethoven's Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5. The opening of Mahler's Third Symphony is very similar to the theme to the last movement of Brahms' First Symphony. I don't know if it was stolen or if it was a folk tune, however the famous theme to the last movement of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony No. 41 can be heard in the last movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 39 (one of my favorite earlier Haydn symphonies).
 

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The equivalent of 'pop tunes' of the day made it into classical easily. One example I just got to know is Lalo's cello concerto which has the same tune as Sarasate's Habanera. Dunno which came first, but I think this was a traditional or 'pop' tune originating in Havana, Cuba. The fact that Sarasate was Spanish and Lalo's family was of Spanish ancestry also feeds into this. Dunno if either of them travelled to Cuba, but this tune could well have been popular in Europe.

Compare the Sarasate Habanera to Lalo cello concerto (3rd movement) (Approx. 1:50 in you will get the same tune stated fully in this clip).

Maybe its just artistic license. In the past, copyright laws where either not as stringent or nonexistent. Yes, people are right, even the greats did various forms of rehash. Brahms for example rehashed tunes played by gypsy bands for his Hungarian Dances (variously composed/arranged by gypsies or their patrons, incl. aristocrats). Hence, he did not give them an opus number, but they where his most popular and bankable works. There are other examples. Berlioz's (or was it Liszt's?) Rakoczy March is another similar example, I discussed in this somewhat related thread (under the heading 'arrangements') -
http://www.talkclassical.com/21284-attributions-completions-hoaxes-other.html
 

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Have any other Talk Classical readers been as shocked to discover examples of what might be called plagiarism today?
Well, I probably wouldn't call it plagiarism as it is not as if composers took the entire movement and said it was theirs but quoting a theme and building variations and harmonics on that theme are entirely creative to me. And I remember my teacher said it was normal practice to do so in Baroque and Classical times because composers would quote well known themese and do their own variations on it.

But hey, it's art, unless the entire piece was created by one and then declared by another, I think art is all about being free to express and compose according to whatever the artist wants. I don't find it "shocking" to hear a quoted theme, but much more interested and amazed by it.
 

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More Beethoven

An interesting discovery was an article by Alexander Ringer about how Beethoven borrowed from/stole from/was influenced by 2 now totally obscure London-based contemporaries, Dussek and Pinto. The comparison in the score samples between these 2 and LvB was fascinating.

I am now listening to his 3rd Symphony. The main theme of the 3rd movement is similar to a melody Mozart used a lot.
 

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Some more:

Similar theme:
Beethoven Piano Sonata #28 Movement 2
Mendelssohn 5th Symphony 2nd Movement

Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Concerto quotes Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto

Shostakovich 5th Symphony and Beethoven's C#-Minor Quartet - both start G#-A-B

Was Barber thinking of the C#-Minor Quarter when he wrote the Adagio for Strings?

I hear a lot similarity between Mozart A Major Piano Sonata K331 and Chopin's 3rd Ballade

Did Chopin ever mention how Mozart's Rondo A Minor K511 influenced him?
 

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Plagiarism? More likely "quoting" me thinks... a sophisticated form of flattery (as any jazzer will know). I assume a similar motivation exists among the classical fraternity, too.
 
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