April 25, 2004 at 10:26 PM · Just a small trivial question, if a fermata is right at the end of a piece on top of the double bar line and not on a note, (such as the final movement of the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings), what does that mean? Do we pause after we play the last note?

Replies (15)

April 25, 2004 at 10:37 PM · thats the only explanation that seems plausible to me, if its the last movement

April 26, 2004 at 02:39 AM · That was always my understanding as well.

April 26, 2004 at 06:43 AM · During the fermata, no cell phones are allowed to ring, no babies are allowed to cry, no one can scream, "Bravo!" This also enables the musicians time to clear the stage in case of a mob that throws rotten vegetables.

April 27, 2004 at 12:50 AM · Haha, nice Emily.

I interpret it as a pause. Everyone on stage holds their breath and position untill the conductor lowers his baton. Then the fermata is over. :)

April 27, 2004 at 03:24 AM · Greetings,

Matt, no, no and no!!!

Never give those damn conducters the power of life and death over string players!

What were you thinking?



April 27, 2004 at 03:31 AM · It was my understanding that such a pause invariably occurs at the end of a piece whether a fermata is featured or not. In fact I train my little ones to do it when prepping up pieces for performance (how pretentious am I??) - it looks good and impresses examiners;)

April 27, 2004 at 05:34 AM · Greetings,

recently I heard a conducter tell an orchestra, this music begins in infinity andf returns to infinity.

He probably read it on a prune can,



April 27, 2004 at 06:33 PM · no conductor could ever think that up on his own.

April 27, 2004 at 08:51 PM · I once read a quote by Sir Thomas Beecham - something like 'As long as you start and finish together, the audience doesn't care what happens in between'.

April 27, 2004 at 11:03 PM · I actually think it's meant for photo ops at the end of the piece.

April 28, 2004 at 02:26 AM · Even though you are joking Sue (I really hope.) you definately do not want to have pimples in a performance, ie. A Wind CRACK. When the piece is over you want your audience to snap out of the musical trance, or stand on the chairs and clap until you give an encore (gotta love those moments).

July 25, 2004 at 10:12 PM · Depending on where the fermata is placed it could mean several things going from an interruption on the music, a hold, to a prolongation of the values of a figure (including rests), an many others...and can be followed or not by a cut-off according to the circumnstances.

I´m not familiar with Tchaikovsky´s Score, but if the fermata is over the bar line, maybe it is an interruption of the sound an not a prolongation or hold for the last note. That means that the last note or figure should keep his value, nor short o long and that the music and sound should be stoped there, interrupted (by a cut-off or a sign), and the lengt should not be left a discretion of the conductor or concertmaster, but at the last figure value indicates.

You will probably love to ask a conductor about a more specific and maybe correct information.


July 26, 2004 at 01:12 AM · Now that this thread has been brought back again, I would like to make a correction on a mistake on my part: the fermata is actually on a quartet note rest, not the double bar line as I had previously thought. That being said though, it still does not make much sense.

And Gabi, thanks for your reply. Actually during the rehersal the conductor himself told us that he too has no clue. Well I do have a new idea...perhaps Tchaikovksy wrote down the music so fast that the fermata was mistakenly placed on a rest instead of the note, or perhaps his manuscript was so ambiguous that the editor of the score decided that the fermata looks more like to the rest's side. Any Tchaikovskian scholars here?

July 26, 2004 at 04:16 AM · I´m not a Tchaikovsky scholar, but I´m very sure that he know exactly how he wanted things to be done--But still, mistakes can be done.

Depending on the score, if everyone had this rest with the fermata, is just to take a pause and breath, that kind of interruption is very often used just for keeping the "mood" or just as a preparation for next entrance (maybe a tempo change,a slight indication of new dynamic to create surprise...), or just to create the feeling of a fade out, who knows!?...it really depends on what´s next.

Some examples: New World Symphony Dvorak, second movement, mm.105-108, Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, first movement, mm4-7.


July 26, 2004 at 02:26 PM · Hi,
a fermata over a rest can also indicate that it is a rest where nobody plays anything.
Bye, Jürgen

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