1-2 of 2 Results  for:

  • Light Music and Operetta x
  • Early 18th c./Late Baroque (1700-1750) x
Clear all


Erich Schwandt, Fredric Woodbridge Wilson, and Deane L. Root

(Fr.; It. burlesca; Ger. Burleske)

A humorous piece involving parody and grotesque exaggeration; the term may be traced to folk poetry and theatre and apparently derived from the late Latin burra (‘trifle’). As a literary term in the 17th century it referred to a grotesque imitation of the dignified or pathetic, and in the early 18th century it was used as a title for musical works in which serious and comic elements were juxtaposed or combined to achieve a grotesque effect. In England the word denotes a dramatic production which ridicules stage conventions, while in 19th- and 20th-century American usage its principal meaning is a variety show in which striptease is the chief attraction.

Burlesque: Instrumental music

Burlesque: English theatrical burlesque

Burlesque: American burlesque

ESMGG2 (‘Burleske’; M. Struck) [incl. list of instrumental works]NicollHT.F. Dillon Croker and S. Tucker, eds.: The Extravaganzas of J.R. Planché, Esq. (Somerset Herald, 1827–1871) (London, 1879)W. Davenport Adams...


Erich Schwandt

J.G. Walther (1732) described burlesque music as ‘jocular’ and ‘amusing’ (‘schertzhafft’, ‘kurzweilig’) and referred to ‘burleske Ouvertüren’ as pieces in which ‘laughable melodies, made up of 5ths and octaves, appear along with serious melodies’. This probably referred to the comic effects achieved by composers of Italian opera buffa in the early 18th century, effects that doubtless helped to set a standard of musical humour for the ‘burlesca’ movements sometimes included in contemporary suites. The example in Bach’s Partita bwv827, which is called a minuet in Anna Magdalena’s Notebook (1725), has nothing particularly jocular about it, although it displays some striking harmonies, as well as a passage in parallel octaves. J.L. Krebs placed a ‘bourlesca’ between the saraband and the minuets of his Partita no.2 in B♭; the movement is not a dance, but rather a small-scale sonata form with a few melodic and harmonic surprises. François Couperin subtitled some of his harpsichord pieces ‘dans le goût burlesque’; two examples are ...