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The Creative Hornist

Jeffrey Agrell, Series Editor Improvising Cadenzas in Mozart by Leslie Hart

earning to improvise cadenzas in Mozarts horn concertos helps horn players deepen understanding of this repertoire. I grew up playing the published cadenzas in the performance editions of the concertos and often avoided concertos K. 447 (No. 3) and K. 495 (No. 4) because I did not know how to approach a cadenza. I imagine that most students have a similar experience. Improvisation often invokes fear, but by learning to improvise, horn players have an ideal opportunity to approach Mozarts concertos creatively, and to internalize this rich musical vocabulary. Improvisation is analogous to conversation in language.1 Think about the words that you are currently reading. Are you paying attention to the individual letters in this sentence? Most likely, you are 1) grouping letters into words and words into phrases, 2) predicting what is next, and 3) comparing what is the same and what is different from what you have read before. These skills, which facilitate speaking, reading, and writing language with comprehension, are also important to the process of learning to improvise.2 The following musical examples and Seven Skills from Developing Musicianship through Improvisation3 are designed to introduce you to improvising a cadenza for Mozarts Horn b Concerto No. 3 in E , K. 447, first movement. All musical exb amples are written for horn in E . Transpositions in F and sound files can be found at lesliehart.com.

Figure 1. Opening theme, harmony, and bass line to Mozart Concerto No. 3.4

Dennis Brains Cadenza


Dennis Brains cadenza for this movement demonstrates a creative approach inspired by the harmony in the opening phrase of Figure 1. Sing and play through the melody and bass line and familiarize yourself with the reuse of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic content of this cadenza. Figure 2. Dennis Brains cadenza5

Mozarts Theme
Sing and play the melody, cello/bass part, and roots to examine the harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic content of the opening theme (Figure 1). Notice the reuse of melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic content. This musical material can be the inspiration for improvisation. For example, the harmony and the rhythm patterns in the opening theme provide a context for learning to improvise. This familiar harmonic and rhythmic content are common in Western music. The more repertoire you know that contains familiar harmonic functions in major and minor tonalities and rhythm patterns in duple and triple meters, the easier it will be to predict, group, and compare within Mozarts horn concertos.

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The Creative Hornist Seven Skills


We can utilize the Seven Skills to examine Brains cadenza and guide the creation of our own improvisation. Sing and play through each of these examples and then improvise your own version of each skill. Skill 1: Improvise rhythm patterns over the bass line. Skill 7: Improvise passing tones and embellishments.

Guidelines
Modern day and classical musicians have established cadenza guidelines. Though not specifically for horn players, Robert Levins description of cadenzas for the Mozart piano concertos is relevant to this discussion. Skill 2: Voice leading principles.

Levins description of normative cadenzas:6


1. Introduction (optional): passage-work of a bar or more that provides a virtuoso springboard for what follows (missing in K453). 2. First section, often derived from the primary group. Care is taken to remove harmonic stability from quoted material. This is usually done by avoiding the root position tonic triad, whose presence would immediately destroy the tension on the initial 6-4 with fermata. Mozart often replaces root position tonic triads with a 6-4. Compare the quotation in the cadenza of the first theme of the first movement of K453 with its original form. The first section leads to an arrival either on V7 or on the tonic 6-4; this is often underscored by a fermata, and an optional bridge of passage-work leads to the second section. 3. Second section, often derived from the secondary group. Again the stability of root position tonic is usually avoided, and non-modulating sequences are sometimes made chromatic (or more chromatic). Compare the second theme from K453 with its treatment in the cadenza. Like the first section, the second culminates in a clear arrival, here on the tonic 6-4, elaborated by passage-work and a fermata. Sometimes the dominant note appears alone (with octave building), but it is clear that I 6-4, not dominant, is meant. 4. Conclusion: a flourish or running scale that prepares the trill, which ends the cadenza. Levins description is based upon the cadenzas that Mozart wrote for his piano concertos. Comparing the piano concerto cadenzas with that of Horn Concertos No. 3 and 4, John Dressler provides a cadenza model for horn players. Dressler discusses form and balance as a means to understand Mozarts content when learning to improvise and writes, Mozarts own cadenzas to his piano concerti serve as excellent examples by which to study this balance of form as he, himself [Mozart], intended.7 Another set of guidelines for cadenzas was described by D.G. Trk in the late 18th century. Trks rules for cadenzas:8 the cadenzashould particularly reinforce the impression the composition has made in a most lively way and present the most important parts of the whole

Skill 3: Sing and play through Skill 2 over the progression of Brains cadenza.

Skill 4: Improvise rhythm patterns over the harmonic progression.

Skill 5: Improvise tonal patterns over the harmonic progression.

Skill 6: Improvise tonal patterns with added rhythm.

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The Horn Call - May 2010

The Creative Hornist


composition in the form of a brief summary or in an extremely concise arrangement. The cadenza, like every extempore embellishment, must consist not so much of intentionally added difficulties as of such thoughts which are most scrupulously suited to the main character of the composition. Cadenzas should not be too long, especially in compositions of a melancholy character. Modulations into other keys, particularly to those which are far removed, either do not take place at all for example, in short cadenzas or they must be used with much insight and, as it were, only in passing. In no case should one modulate to a key which the composer himself has not used in the composition. It seems to me that this rule is founded on the principle of unity, which, as is well known, must be followed in all works of the fine arts Just as unity is required for a well-ordered whole, so also is variety necessary if the attention of the listener is to be held. Therefore as much of the unexpected and the surprising as can possibly be added should be used in the cadenza. No thought should be often repeated in the same key or in another, no matter how beautiful it may be. Every dissonance which has been included, even in single-voiced cadenzas, must be properly resolved. A cadenza does not have to be crudite, but novelty, wit, an abundance of ideas and the like are so much more its indispensable requirements. The same tempo and metre should not be maintained throughout the cadenza; its individual fragments (those parts which are incomplete in themselves) must be skillfully joined to one another. For the whole cadenza should be more like a fantasia which has been fashioned out of an abundance of feeling, rather than a methodically-constructed composition. From what has been said it follows that a cadenza which perhaps has been learned by memory with great effort or has been written out before should be performed as if it were invented on the spur of the moment, consisting of a choice of ideas indiscriminately thrown together which has just occurred to the player. It is interesting to note that in rule no. 6, Trk describes improvising music as the expression of a thought. His other rules demonstrate the importance of predicting, grouping, and comparing. denzas, transcribe cadenzas from other horn players. Practice your skills of grouping, predicting, and comparing by relating your transcriptions to that of Dennis Brain, as well as Levin and Trks guidelines. Be patient with yourself, and be encouraged by the words of 18th-19th century musician Johann Nepomuk Hummel: I close by recommending free improvisation in general and in every respectable form to all those for whom [music] is not merely a matter of entertainment and practical ability, but rather principally one of inspiration and meaning in their art. This recommendation, to be sure, has never been so urgent now, because the number of people whose interest belong to the former category and not to the latter has never been so great. Even if a person plays with inspiration, but always from a written score, he or she will be much less nourished, broadened, and educated than through the frequent offering of all of his or her powers in a free fantasy practiced in full awareness of certain guidelines and directions, even if this improvisation is only moderately successful.9 Figure 3. Cadenza by Leslie Hart

Notes
Christopher D. Azzara, Improvisation and Choral Musicianship, in The School Choral Program: Philosophy, Planning, Organizing, and Teaching, ed. M. Holt and J. Jordan (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2008), 203. 2 Ibid., 204. 3 Christopher D. Azzara and Richard F. Grunow, Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation, Book I/CDs (Chicago: GIA publications, 2006). 4 W. A. Mozart, Horn Concerto No. 3 in Eb, K. 447, Neue Mozart Ausgabe, Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum (Packard Humanities Institute), dme.mozarteum.at/DME/nma/start.php?l=2 5 Hans Pizka, Mozart & the Horn, Facsimile collection, (Munich: Schttner, 1980). 6 Robert D. Levin, Instrumental Ornamentation, Improvisation and Cadenzas, in Norton/Grove Handbooks in Music: Performance Practice: Music after 1600. ed. Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie (Norton: New York, 1990), 283. 7 John C. Dressler, On the Cadenzas in Mozarts Horn Concerti, The Horn Call 15, 1 (October 1984): 47-51. 8 D. G. Trk, Clavierschule, in Levin, 280. 9 Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1828/1829), in Improvisation, Christopher D. Azzara, The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (Oxford University Press: 2002), 176.
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Improvisation and Composition


Figure 3 is a cadenza that I have composed for modern horn. If interested, the process for learning to improvise can also be applied to natural horn, the instrument available during Mozarts time. In addition to improvising your own ca-

Leslie Hart is a DMA candidate in Performance and Literature and Music Education at the Eastman School of Music. She is on the faculties of Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester NY. See lesliehart.com.

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