Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply


Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:14 pm

<2018 “If 2016 was the bravura opener and 2017 the tension-building second act, 2018 could deliver an action-packed conclusion to the Russia imbroglio.”—, 2 January>
Although one might guess its meaning from the context, I’m unfamiliar with the word so I’ll do some delving. Erik did use it in a very amusing posting titled English English? back in 2003.


Bravura ( bra·vu·ra)

noun and adjective:

1a) A florid brilliant virtuoso musical composition. A passage or piece of music requiring great skill and spirit in its execution, written to task the artist's powers; a piece or passage that emphasizes a performer's virtuosity. <the stunning bravuras of Verdi>

1b) The virtuosic execution of a musical composition or passage by a performer; brilliant technique or style in performance.

2) A show of daring or brilliancy; display of daring or defiance; brilliancy of execution, dash; attempt at brilliant performance; a showy manner or display. <He organized all sorts of bravura stunts, the more senseless or dangerous the better.>

3) An aggressively confident and commanding air. <The sinister smiling figure . . . making a bravura exit before the vote.>

4) Music: Of, relating to, or being a brilliant performance technique or style.

5) Showy; ostentatious

Etymology: Italian, literally, bravado, bravery, from bravare to show off + -ura -ure
First Known Use: 1757 (sense 1a)

(Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary[/i] and The American Heritage Dictionary)

The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources.
<1813 “A Thunder Storm [picture] has a bravura both of conception and execution.”—The Examiner, 3 May, page 282/1>

<1846 “A short bravura of John Paul Richter . . . I call it a bravura, as being intentionally a passage of display and elaborate execution.”—Syst. Heavens by T. De Quincey, in Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, September, page 577/2>

<1879 “The idea, spontaneous and thrillingly simple, has none of their bravura.”— Athenæum, No. 2709>

<1986 He knows how Schubert works and can bring to his soaring lyric phrases the eloquence and drama they require. He could, on occasion, also bring a little more bravura, but the loss is not fatal.”— “Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois), 20 January>

<1993 “Yet lest one think the project's idea of men's dance is all brawn and bravura, the bill also includes Rick Darnell's oddball ‘Brides of Frankenstein,’ a giddy romp featuring men with nothing under their tutus but sneakers and kneepads.”—The Washington Post (D.C.), 22 January>

<2010 “The story of Adam and Cynthia Morey's life together begins with a bravura description of their wedding in Pittsburgh.”—The Economist (U.S.), 16 January>

<2017 “The way he substitutes tubes of Colgate for phalluses in “Cleaning Teeth, Early Evening (10pm) W11" is at once hilarious, brazen, and bravura.”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 24 December>

<2018 “In the tradition of Schumann and Prokofiev, Hamelin's Toccata is a fast-moving, four-minute, bravura display.”—Fanfare [magazine] (Tenafly, New Jersey), 1 January>

Ken Greenwald – January 4, 2018

Post Reply