The Cadenzas to Beethoven’s Piano Concertos: Compositional Processes and Early Performance Traditions.

Mosley, Kathryn J. 2016. The Cadenzas to Beethoven’s Piano Concertos: Compositional Processes and Early Performance Traditions.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Beethoven's cadenzas for his piano concertos are important manifestations of his pianistic and compositional development, from the early sketches through to the published compositions of 1809. While the compositional principles behind them have their roots in C.P.E. Bach's writing on improvisation, and the concertos themselves take Mozart's as their model, Beethoven altered the
function of the cadenza, creating a more organic structure for the concerto. The principal aim of this thesis is to examine the ways in which Beethoven constructs cadenzas for the first movements of his piano concertos so as to provide integrated structural extensions of those movements. This aim has been realised through a detailed re-examination and analysis, not previously undertaken, of all the relevant sketch material as well as a consideration and contextualisation of Beethoven's performances
in relation to this material and the later printed versions.

This reassessment also sheds new light on later performance traditions, principally those of the nineteenth century. Developments in the tonal qualities and sonority of the piano contributed to a new virtuosity among pianists of the generation following Beethoven. The cadenzas of Carl Czerny (arguably Beethoven's most significant pupil) and Czerny's student Franz Liszt demonstrably adopt Beethoven's compositional principles. Yet those by Beethoven's friend and colleague Ignaz Moscheles
embrace the new figurations and surface complexities typical of this period. By contrast Clara Schumann would master a more compositional approach based on her understanding of Beethoven's style.

The establishment of recording in the early part of the twentieth century means that certain nineteenth-century performance traditions can, with the help of other kinds of documentation, be
reconstructed. Recordings of several pianists are considered here on account of their links to Liszt, Moscheles and Clara Schumann, and the special bond with Beethoven claimed by them and the
previous generation. Amongst other features they provide evidence of the then current habit of integrating a newly-composed cadenza with the work.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Beethoven, Cadenza, Piano Concerto, Op. 15, Op. 19, Op. 37, Op. 58, Op. 73, Compositional Processes, Structural Extension. Performance Traditions. Early Recordings. Czerny. Liszt. Moscheles. Clara Schumann. Schnabel. William Murdoch. Josef Hofmann. Edwin Fischer. Mark Hambourg. York Bowen.

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31 December 2016

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Date Deposited:

25 Jan 2017 11:32

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:46


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