Allusion as Narrative Premise in Brahms's Instrumental Music

by Jacquelyn E. C. Sholes

Published by: Indiana University Press

274 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in, 140 music exx., 2 tables

  • Paperback
  • 9780253033154
  • Published: May 2018


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  • Hardcover
  • 9780253033147
  • Published: May 2018


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  • eBook
  • 9780253033192
  • Published: May 2018


Who inspired Johannes Brahms in his art of writing music? In this book, Jacquelyn E. C. Sholes provides a fresh look at the ways in which Brahms employed musical references to works of earlier composers in his own instrumental music. By analyzing newly identified allusions alongside previously known musical references in works such as the B-Major Piano Trio, the D-Major Serenade, the First Piano Concerto, and the Fourth Symphony, among others, Sholes demonstrates how a historical reference in one movement of a work seems to resonate meaningfully, musically, and dramatically with material in other movements in ways not previously recognized. She highlights Brahms's ability to weave such references into broad, movement-spanning narratives, arguing that these narratives served as expressive outlets for his complicated, sometimes conflicted, attitudes toward the material to which he alludes. Ultimately, Brahms's music reveals both the inspiration and the burden that established masters such as Domenico Scarlatti, J. S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, and especially Beethoven represented for him as he struggled to emerge with his own artistic voice and to define and secure his unique position in music history.