noun Music.

an elaborate flourish or showy solo passage, sometimes improvised, introduced near the end of an aria or a movement of a concerto.

Origin of cadenza

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cadenza

Historical Examples of cadenza

  • And in the department of cadenza and variation he deemed him without an equal.

  • It is significant that he played the cadenza, the most difficult part, best of all.

    Franz Liszt

    James Huneker

  • I had begged him to compose a cadenza for me, but he directed me to write one myself.

  • There is in music an effect yet more magical than that of the cadenza.

    Massimilla Doni

    Honore de Balzac

  • This volume also contains his own cadenza to the Beethoven violin concerto.

    Violin Mastery

    Frederick H. Martens

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
Southern African informal a fit or convulsion

Word Origin for cadenza

C19: from Italian; see cadence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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