An Unpublished Cadenza By Gounod For Mozart's Piano Concerto KV 491

Mueter, John A.

The Washington State University Libraries have, over the years, acquired a small but significant collection of music manuscripts. One of the most interesting items in the collection is the manuscript of a cadenza written by Charles Gounod for the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, KV 491. The manuscript was purchased in London just after the Second World War. It had been labelled as an "untitled piece for piano by Charles Gounod" and remained thus for almost 35 years until its recent discovery and identification by this author. The cadenza is especially valuable in light of the fact that Mozart himself did not provide any original cadenza for this concerto, undoubtedly one of the greatest in the repertoire. In comparison with the many cadenzas which have been written by other composers for this concerto movement, Gounod's can be regarded as one of the better attempts. It is important to bear in mind that a cadenza serves a specific purpose. Occurring before the coda, the cadenza takes its cue from the forceful emphasis of the tonic six-four by the orchestra. It is meant to be a personal commentary, reworking the themes presented in the movement and possibly even containing some additional new material. The cadenza should always be in keeping with the general character of the concerto movement itself. Gounod, for all his reverence and deep appreciation of Mozart, is a romantic composer after all. However, his romanticism is largely tempered by restraint, refinement, and a genuine regard for the character of the movement. Gounod's cadenza should be regarded as a welcome addition to the list of cadenzas available for the C minor Concerto.



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Columbia University
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April 7, 2015