scherzo

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scherzo

(skĕr`tsō) [Ital.,=joke], in music, term denoting various types of composition, primarily one that is lively and presents surprises in the rhythmic or melodic material. In 1607 a group of light pieces for voice were published by Monteverdi as scherzi musicali. In the symphonies and string quartets of Haydn the scherzo was a development of the minuet, and in Beethoven's works it replaced the minuet as the third movement of a work in sonata form. Mendelssohn gives the scherzo an airy grace, while the four piano scherzos of Chopin are works of boldness and strength.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Scherzo

 

(1) In Italian music of the 16th and 17th centuries, monophonic and polyphonic vocal pieces with humorous texts.

(2) An instrumental work similar to the capriccio, frequently included in instrumental suites. From the late 18th century the scherzo was part of the sonata form (the symphony, sonata, quartet, and sometimes, the concerto), replacing the minuet, usually the third movement. The scherzo is characterized by 3/4 or 3/8 time, a rapid tempo, and a free shifting of musical ideas that introduces an element of the unexpected. Like the burlesque, the scherzo is often associated with the expression of humor, ranging from the lighthearted to the darkly ominous and grotesque. The scherzo is usually written in a three-part, reprise form, with a trio in a more serene mood.

The classical scherzo was perfected by Beethoven. Later outstanding masters of the scherzo as a movement in the sonata form were the Western European composers Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Bruckner; the Russian composers P. I. Tchaikovsky and A. P. Borodin; and the Soviet composers N. I. Mias-kovskii, S. S. Prokofiev, and D. D. Shostakovich. During the romantic period the scherzo was revived as an independent piece by Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, M. A. Balakirev, and Tchaikovsky, who composed scherzos for piano, and by Mendelssohn, P. Dukas, and M. P. Mussorgsky, who composed scherzos for orchestra.

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

scherzo

Music a brisk lively movement, developed from the minuet, with a contrastive middle section (a trio)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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Given the vitality of the two painters' work it is not stretching the point in this regard to say that the distinction between Dunham and Guston is akin to that between the Tiepolo of the Scherzi and the Goya of the Caprichos.
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Kraus's 'Phrase Rhythm in Bruckner's Early Orchestral Scherzi', a detailed rhythmical analysis of the scherzo movements in the First, Second and Third Symphonies.
Chopin, Frederic: The Four Scherzi (and other works).
He appears in a list of revered musicians in the famous reply (written by Monteverdi's brother) to Artusi's criticisms which was appended to the Scherzi musicali of 1607.(21) This publication is dated 21 July 1607 -- just seven days before the letter which mentions the sonnets.