Beautiful fermatas in pre-1920 classical music?
August 25, 2011 7:41 AM   Subscribe

What are some of the most beautiful fermatas in classical music? Moments where the music stops, hangs - before finally resuming. Looking for pieces that were composed before 1920.
posted by Marquis to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," right before the last Hallelujah.
posted by Melismata at 7:45 AM on August 25, 2011

Btw, another name for a fermata over a rest is called a grand pause.
posted by Melismata at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks Melismata. I didn't know that. If you think of any other good ones, please share - eager for quantity over quality here!
posted by Marquis at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2011

Four Seasons. Vivaldi.
posted by effluvia at 7:50 AM on August 25, 2011

Air on the G string, by JS Bach.
posted by chara at 8:07 AM on August 25, 2011

The Adagio from Bach's Violin Concerto in E major has a couple of grand pauses that slay me every time.
posted by saladin at 8:10 AM on August 25, 2011

There's a lovely little pause in the Scherzo of the Schubert Octet that always lights up my day.
posted by dogsbody at 8:14 AM on August 25, 2011

  • Bruckner's Eighth Symphony is full of these moments where the music builds to a climax before dropping back down and slowly building again. I'm not as familiar with his other symphonies, but I think there's a moment or two like this in his Fourth Symphony as well.
  • Tchaikovsky did this in the finales of his Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. The Fourth, in particular, has a moment where the movement builds and builds and suddenly slams you back into the brass fanfare that started the symphony.
  • The granddaddy of all these Romantic-period examples, though, is in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, final movement. I'm thinking of the moment after the initial choral statement, right before the "Turkish March" comes in. In my opinion, this is the quintessential example of the type of thing you're looking for.

posted by Johnny Assay at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites is the second movement of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1. (Supposedly) listening to it made Tolstoy cry.
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2011

Final movement of Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky)? (The Great Gates of Kiev?)
posted by Buffaload at 8:29 AM on August 25, 2011

I don't know if this piece uses fermatas, strictly speaking, but the pauses and simplicity give the piece its essential beauty, and it gives me shivers every time I hear it.
It is interesting that the construction is so simple, yet Valentina says it was impossible for her to play it when she was young, because she didn't know what to do with it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:59 AM on August 25, 2011

Chopin's Nocturne Op.9 No. 2, right near the end, has a fermata that trails off into an extended trill; always left me breathless.
posted by leapfrog at 9:05 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, the transition between the second and third movement. 3:11 in this clip.
posted by Namlit at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2011

Several I like in the the Largo in Dvorak's 9th, starting about 5:40 here:
posted by allelopath at 10:26 AM on August 25, 2011

Hadyn's cello concerto in D major, first movement (allegro moderato) -- there are parts that sound to me like a person teetering on the brink of orgasm.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2011

There are some beautiful ones when Brünnhilde wakes up in Siegfried (video).
posted by dfan at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2011

And, speaking of Wagner, of course there's the opening to Tristan und Isolde (video).
posted by dfan at 10:39 AM on August 25, 2011

The prelude of the JS Bach 2nd solo cello suite has one that makes me cry, about 2/3 of the way through.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2011

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