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[kuh-den-zuh] /kəˈdɛn zə/
noun, Music.
an elaborate flourish or showy solo passage, sometimes improvised, introduced near the end of an aria or a movement of a concerto.
1745-55; < Italian < Vulgar Latin *cadentia a falling, equivalent to Latin cad(ere) to fall + -entia -ency; cf. chance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cadenza
  • Then comes a transitional clarinet cadenza that evolves into scurrying riffs and runs.
British Dictionary definitions for cadenza


a virtuoso solo passage occurring near the end of a piece of music, formerly improvised by the soloist but now usually specially composed
(South African, informal) a fit or convulsion
Word Origin
C19: from Italian; see cadence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for cadenza

"ornamental passage near the close of a song or solo," 1836, from Italian cadenza (see cadence).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for cadenza

(Italian: "cadence"), unaccompanied bravura passage introduced at or near the close of a movement of a composition and serving as a brilliant climax, particularly in solo concerti of a virtuoso character. Until well into the 19th century such interpolated passages were often improvised by the performer at suitable openings left for that purpose by the composer. They were displays not only of performing skill but also of more or less spontaneous invention and imagination. Modern performers use written-out cadenzas even for classical concerti, and in modern concerti that include cadenzas they are usually written by the composer. See also improvisation

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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