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The finale of Dvorak 9 in E minor cadences D7/A - E. I heard from somewhere that it can be viewed as one kind of a plagal cadence and I'm wondering if that's true.

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    It depends on how broadly you interpret the term 'plagal cadence'.
    – PiedPiper
    Jun 4 at 14:45

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Strictly speaking, there is only one type of plagal cadence: IV (or iv) moving to I (or i).

However, the cadence in question does have important features in common with a plagal cadence.

  1. Like a plagal cadence, it contains a strong movement from ^4 to ^1. All of the lowest instruments in each section play A moving to E. The presence of C in the chord also helps suggest A minor.
  2. Also like a plagal cadence, it lacks a leading tone. To quote William Caplin (by way of Wikipedia)

the progression IV–I cannot confirm a tonality (it lacks any leading-tone resolution)

However, at this point in the piece, E minor has been firmly establish, and since the tonic E is well in one's ears, the transition to E major doesn't require a strong leading-tone motion, just a transitional harmony, which the D7 provides.

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