John Smyth wrote:
>Are not cadenzas complete vanity?
I know this has already been discussed extensively...but as I was cleaning
out my inbox...
Cadenzas can be found in the music of JS Bach, yet I don't often think
of Bach as being vain...hard nosed maybe...Mozart and Haydn (in many
works including nine of his string quartets) call for cadenzas in their
As an aside to all of this, I find the Brahms cadenzas for the Beethoven
4th Concerto to be amongst the most interesting commentary on the notion
of the cadenza. They are more Brahms than Beethoven. They strike me
as a set of variations on the main themes of the concerto. It is almost,
to my ears, something of a stream of consciousness...there you are moving
along in Beethoven's world and then you have the expected 6/4 chord and
you slowly move into the world of Brahms.
As to my point...the cadenza is embellishment...is it vanity...for me,
it depends. I think of a favorite work like Liszt's Totentanz. It is,
to my ears, a series of cadenzas...even the variation which is a fugue.
For me, it reinforces the notion that cadenza can be both display and
serve as a substantive part of the rhetoric of the composition...and yet
for others, Totentanz is 15 minutes of self-indulgent fluff.