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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a brilliant virtuoso instrumental piece with a free form, often implying whimsical alternation of episodes and moods.

Originally capricci were vocal pieces of the madrigal type, but at the turn of the 17th-century there appeared instrumental capricci that had a polyphonic texture and were close to the ricer-car, canzone, fantasia, and toccata. The 18th-century solo capricci were seemingly improvised cadences that gave the performer an opportunity to demonstrate the fertility of his imagination. Later the form moved closer to the etude in violin music (24 capricci by N. Paganini for violin solo, also known in piano adaptations by F. Liszt and R. Schumann); it also approached the “characteristic” piece for the clavier and the piano.

The 19th-century orchestral capricci usually had a strong na-tional flavor (Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien and Rimsky-Kor-sakov’s Capriccio espagnol).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.