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(nŏk`tûrn) [Fr.,=night piece], in music, romantic instrumental piece, free in form and usually reflective or languid in character. John Field wrote the first nocturnes, influencing Chopin in the writing of his 19 nocturnes for piano. Others who have written nocturnes include Gabriel Fauré and Francis Poulenc for piano, Debussy for orchestra, and by extension Béla Bartók in his night music pieces.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the name given to various types of musical works. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the nocturne was a divertissement, a composition in several movements similar to the cassation and instrumental serenade. It was written mainly for wind or for wind and string instruments and was usually performed outdoors in the evening or at night, for example, the nocturnes of Mozart and Haydn. J. Field established the nocturne as a short melodious and lyrical piano piece of a dreamy or melancholy nature. Chopin’s 21 piano nocturnes, noted for their depth and richness, represent the fullest development of the genre. R. Schumann, J. Hummel, C. Debussy, M. Reger, and P. Hindemith also wrote nocturnes. In Russian music, outstanding examples include M. I. Glinka’s nocturnes for harp, piano, and voice and piano; A. P. Borodin’s nocturne in the String Quartet No. 2; and A. N. Scriabin’s nocturnes.


Kuznetsov, K. A. “Istoricheskie formy noktiurna.” Iskusstvo, 1925, no. 2.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a short, lyrical piece of music, esp one for the piano
2. a painting or tone poem of a night scene
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Encouraged by the warm reaction, Chaplin obliged with two encores: a Chopin Nocturne and a Mazurka.Also among the musicians in the audience were pianist Mariel Ilusorio and her violinist husband Juan Munoz and conductor Rodel Colmenar, who heads the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.
It was inspired by three paintings, also titled "Nocturnes," by James Whist ler, an American-British painter influenced by the impressionists and probably best known for the portrait of his mother.
Nocturnes is the first publication of Luna Press, founded by New Orleans-based photographer Josephine Sacabo and poet Dalt Wonk.
The somewhat dark and eerie mood, inspired by the "Dream Fugues" section in Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1822) is, however, not that of a romantic nocturne. Liebermann uses the orchestra only sparingly in much of this movement, providing simple accompaniment when it does play (except for one brief section during which the soloist becomes accompanist).
Chopin's F minor Ballade produced some splendidly flamboyant moments though the real kernel of the concert came with Lipkin's Nocturnes 1 and 2, as well as Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales.
Goffen correctly notes that Titian increasingly evoked the process of creation in his late non-finito, but ignores how he also succeeded in constructing, especially in his nocturnes, a tension between colorito and disegno, naturalism and idealism, color and non-color, and imaginative creation and formal dissolution.
His complete works, including Crepusculos ("Twilights") and the Nocturnos ("Nocturnes"), for which he is best known, are collected in Obra completa de Jose Asuncion Silva (1956).
In his famous Nocturnes series of paintings, Whistler was more concerned with tone values than with the direct representation of nature.
His poetry collections include Watchers of the Twilight and Other Poems (1894), Irish Poems (1911), Open Water (1912), and New York Nocturnes (1948).
Nocturnes: 8 Romantic-Style Solos for Piano, Book 1 and Nocturnes: 6 Romantic-Style Solos for Piano, Book 2, by Dennis Alexander.