pas·​sage·​work | \ ˈpa-sij-ˌwərk How to pronounce passagework (audio) \

Definition of passagework

: a section of a musical composition characteristically unimportant thematically and consisting especially of ornamental figures

Examples of passagework in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that tests a pianist’s technique. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, "Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly," 4 Oct. 2020 But most interesting was the restless edge in much of the virtuoso passagework, as if Tetzlaff was impatient to discharge the fireworks and get back to weaving lyrical lines in and out of the orchestra. Washington Post, "At the Kennedy Center, Eschenbach casts the NSO in standard but staunch roles," 25 Jan. 2020 As the music unfolded, the piano kept breaking into spans of filigreed, Chopinesque passagework. New York Times, "A Star Pianist Brings Soft-Spoken Virtuosity to Scriabin," 28 Nov. 2019 Even beyond this design, Strauss’ tone poem provides a startling range of color, from swirling strings passagework to punctuating brass exhortations to shattering climaxes for the entire ensemble. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Conductor David Afkham at his best in Brahms," 25 Oct. 2019 Kern is a pianist of muscle and blazing, headlong speed: the densest passagework cruised, even occasionally hurtling past Slatkin’s warm, firmly outlined accompaniment. Matthew Guerrieri, Washington Post, "Leonard Slatkin gives himself a 75th birthday present: a reunion with the NSO," 6 Dec. 2019 Only a group of musicians who have toured together for so long – with several original members still on the bandstand – could have attained this kind of synchronicity in intricate passagework. Howard Reich,, "Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra review: Wynton Marsalis and friends take on ‘Jazz Ambassadors’," 16 Nov. 2019 Cole performed each piece with exuberance, drawing the listener in with his lightning-fast passagework and playful flourishes. Jessica Rudman,, "Review: Guest pianist Kevin Cole dazzles on a night of memorable melodies," 13 Oct. 2019 This piece features nimbly flowing moments in which the microphones elicit delicate passagework, as well as drones dominated by clashing dissonances or hypnotic, sustained chords. New York Times, "He Turned the Met Museum’s Collection Into an Orchestra," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'passagework.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of passagework

1865, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler

The first known use of passagework was in 1865

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Statistics for passagework

Last Updated

9 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Passagework.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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