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(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.



(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.


Music a brisk lively movement, developed from the minuet, with a contrastive middle section (a trio)
References in periodicals archive ?
This resulted in particular in the sonically more objective scherzo, which, however, is not as agogically refined as that of Gielen's creation, recorded a few months earli er.
2 II secondo canto degli uccelli: Variazioni sullo stesso scherzo
Inner movements remain comparatively neglected and Ryan McClelland's new book on Brahms's scherzos seeks to redress this imbalance.
Lo que exprese en el Scherzo se explica de la siguiente manera: cuando uno observa una sala de baile desde lejosy a traves de una ventana, pero sin escuchar la musica, el movimiento continuo, los giros de los bailarines parecen confusosy absurdos porque falta la referencia del ritmo.
Pero pasa algo parecido que con el Scherzo previo, y casi por las mismas razones que aduce Bal y Gay:
Fantasy, Scherzo and Nocturne is a three-movement piece approximately 10 minutes in duration.
This is undertaken in impressionistic pictures of Emerson and Thoreau, a sketch of the Alcotts, and a scherzo supposed to reflect a lighter quality which is often found in the fantastic side of Hawthorne" (Essays xxv).
In each section, the various poems represent in some way the section's theme; for example, the Scherzo section contains poems that end in a "surprise" or conclude with a note of humor.
There are four mazurkas and a scherzo by Chopin, and an etude by Scriabin.
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In an essay notable for its subtle literary analysis, Anthony Colantuono explores Bellori's use of the word scherzo, drawing parallels to its usage in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetics.
The four sections of the sprawling multimedia exhibition "Suite Fantastique"-- labeled "overture," "variations and scherzo," "intermezzo and trio," and "rave"--included large-screen projections of opening film credits by the Hollywoodbased design team Imaginary Forces; two galleries of early drawings by architects Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Thom Mayne, and Bernard Tschumi ("Perfect Acts of Architecture"); and a hulking walk-in hybrid of painting and architecture by Fabian Marcaccio and Greg Lynn (The Predator, 2000-01).