As for Cadenzas, Beethoven Left Mark With His Violin Concerto

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As for Cadenzas, Beethoven Left Mark With His Violin Concerto

An elaborate solo found near the end of a movement in a concerto is called a cadenza and written either by the composer or improvised by the performer. Until the 19th century, performers were expected to provide their own cadenzas since most composers left suitable openings for that purpose. During the classical music period, cadenzas were left entirely up to the performers and were considered opportunities to display their spontaneous imagination and virtuosic skills for audiences.

When Ludwig van Beethoven composed his violin concerto he, too, followed the convention of his times and did not include a written cadenza for the concerto. Many performers have written cadenzas for the concerto, including Leopold Auer, Nathan Milstein, Charles Saint Saens, Hauser Vieuxtemps and Ferruccio Busoni.

In 1992 Gidon Kremer, a violinist renowned for his superb technique, produced a recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto under the Teldec record label. In Kremer's recording, credit for the cadenza goes to Beethoven, also. Beethoven once arranged his violin concerto into a piano concerto for Muzio Clementi, a brilliant pianist and publisher at the time. For this piano concerto Beethoven also provided a cadenza. Kremer re-arranged the cadenza for the piano concerto by adding a violin solo. While Kremer played the Beethoven-Kremer violin cadenza on stage, the piano solo was delivered from backstage via speakers.

Other violinists such as Michaelangelo Abbado and Wolfgang Schneiderhan have also re-arranged Beethoven's piano cadenza into versions for the violin. Those violinists believed that if Beethoven himself had written an original cadenza for the violin, it would not be very different from their own versions.

Beethoven's violin concerto begins with a timpani solo and the first movement takes over 25 minutes to perform. In 1806, when the concerto was premiered in Vienna, the extended length of the movement came as a surprise to the audience but later became the standard repertoire. In 1844 Joseph Joachim, a Hungarian violinist 13 years old at the time, performed Beethoven's cadenza to wide critical acclaim. Joachim's performances of Beethoven's violin concerto was key to establishing the work in the standard repertoire.

by Lee Jang-jik

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