Journal of Musicology
The Cadence of Mozart's Cadenzas
DANUTA MIRKA

ABSTRACT

The cadenzas Mozart supplied for his piano concertos are designed to close with a standard schema that conforms to the cadence as it was understood by musicians of the 18th century and described by such writers as Heinrich Christoph Koch. Melodic ingredients included the note of preparation, the cadential note, and the caesura note. The cadential schema may be elongated and manipulated in diverse ways, and in extreme cases, as witnessed in Mozart's practice, manipulations of the schema may yield sophisticated strategies that encompass several phases of approaching closure.

Since the cadence of the cadenza served as a crucial means of communication between soloist and orchestra, its playful handling by the soloist presumably elicited amusing behavior among the orchestral musicians as they prepared to enter for the end of the final ritornello. This factor contributed a certain visual dimension to the communication between soloist and audience, in accordance with the aesthetic of witticism ascribed to the cadenza by 18th-century writers.