The original cadenzas in the piano concertos of Beethoven: an analysis
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The study and analysis of all eight cadenzas written by Ludwig van Beethoven for the first four of his piano concertos, reveals, as much as can be gleaned from this evidence, important information about Beethoven's approach to improvisation. This subject has long eluded investigation due to the paucity of musical and collateral evidence. The analyses of these cadenzas, seven of which are complete, reveal surprising information about the nature of the harmonic plan of the cadenzas, and the choice of thematic material in each section of the cadenza. They also uncover consistencies of pattern and compositional technique that clearly set these cadenzas apart from the late eighteenth-century norms, best exemplified by those of Mozart. Beethoven may have been prompted to commit these cadenzas to paper in 1809 by the fear of piracy, a fact he noted with increased attention, after his retirement from the concert stage 1n 1807. And by 1809 he had already begun study of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Versuch and Daniel Gottlob Turk's Clavierschule in preparation for the anticipated education of the Archduke Rudolph. The keyboard fantasy, an important subject in the writings of both these theorists, had i ts own set of rules and compositional approaches. That Turk drew a connec t ion between the fantasy and the cadenza as similar compositional forms, coupled with the amount of detailed description of the fantasy in Bach's treatise, may have served as an inspiration and perhaps guideline for Beethoven's composition of both the Fantasy, op. 77, and the cadenzas in the same year. Certain stylistic characteristics predominate in the cadenzas: the use of imitation at the outset; the greatest extent of fantasy- like free modulation in the first of the three formal sections; the development of the subsidiary theme in the second section, and the strikingly careful avoidance of a strong dominant prolongation before the actual closing dominant of the cadenza. The cadenzas show an increasing predilection to grow in the direction of compositional, rather than extemporizational planning, a tendency that reaches its zenith in the written-in cadenzas in the Fifth Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the unfinished Sixth Piano Concerto.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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