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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.


Music a brisk lively movement, developed from the minuet, with a contrastive middle section (a trio)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The composer's relationship to Beethoven's scherzos looms as a principal compositional reference, sometimes as a source for allusion, more often as a template that Brahms composes against.
It permits detailed treatment of a large group of pieces but does not situate Brahms's scherzos within the history of the genre.
The author hints at a new approach to historical musical topics when he groups three rather disparate pieces--the scherzos from the Horn Trio, First Piano Trio and Second Piano Quartet--under the heading "The Pastoral Scherzos." Musical signification of the pastoral is present only intermittently in these movements, combined with allusion to many other topics within quite distinctive individual contexts.
This includes the most sophisticated description of Brahms's intermezzo-influenced inner movements to date, particularly their penchant for greater thematic variety than most scherzos. Perhaps most important, the book supports recent recognition of the continuing validity of generic distinctions during the mid-and late nineteenth century, by implication refuting Carl Dahlhaus's claim of generic relativism in late romanticism (Carl Dahlhaus, "Zur Problematik der musikalischen Gattungen im 19.
4 is one of the highlights of Kubelik's set, be it the first movement, the sonically, balanced second, the Scherzo with a Rienzi-like trio or the emotionally gradated finale.
4, a work calling out for contrasting tempi, ferocity and pathos (the dawdling variation movement, the not overly brazen Scherzo and the more elegiac than dramatic first movement).
Alongside the very slow deep strings introduction to the Scherzo of Symphony No.
4, nervous, heroic, tension-filled, in the first movement with a sense for each minor flourish and a lyrical contrast of the secondary theme, with a nimble Scherzo and unrestrained finale with transparent timpani.
All of the works reviewed here are published by Merion Music, a subsidiary of the Theodore Presser Company, and many are commercially available on compact discs--the Scherzo Sonata on Ivory (Jonathan Shames, piano, the Bridge Ensemble, Koch International Classics 3-7313-2 H1 [1995]; reissued on Summit Records DCD 286 [2001]); the Piano Concerto on Gateways: Symphonic Works of Daniel Asia (Andre-Michel Schub, piano, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Sedares, Koch International 3-7372-2 H1 [1997]; reissued on Summit Records DCD 285 [2000]); Symphony no.
La presenza ripetuta delle parole appartenenti al campo semantico della festa e dell'allegria--tripudi, allegre--insieme a quelle altre dedicate alla musica, al canto e alla danza--dialogo musicato, dialogo, canzonetta, sillabe cantate, allegretto con brio, note, parole, scherzo, fuga, fischiettare, fanno di queste righe uno dei momenti piu felici dell'opera.
2.2 II secondo canto degli uccelli: Variazioni sullo stesso scherzo
Li tutti e due sentono di nuovo la canzone degli uccelli dedicata allo scherzo.