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date: 19 August 2019

Capriccio(i) (It.: ‘whim’, ‘fancy’; Fr. caprice)locked

  • Erich Schwandt


(It.: ‘whim’, ‘fancy’; Fr. caprice)

The term has been used in a bewildering variety of ways. Works entitled ‘capriccio’ embrace a wide range of procedures and forms, as well as a great variety of performing media, vocal and instrumental. The word first appeared in the second half of the 16th century, and it was used almost immediately in connection with pieces of music (the earliest reference, applied by Jacquet de Berchem to a set of madrigals, is in 1561). The term was used, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, for works in various media, including madrigals, music for voices or instruments, and instrumental pieces, particularly keyboard ones. According to Furetière (1690), ‘Capriccios are pieces of music, poetry or painting wherein the force of imagination has better success than observation of the rules of art’. ‘Capriccio’ does not signify a specific musical technique or structure, but rather a general disposition towards the exceptional, the whimsical, the fantastic and the apparently arbitrary....

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