Ballade (classical music)

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Not to be confused with Ballade (forme fixe), a medieval poetic and musical form.
For other uses, see Ballad (disambiguation).

A ballade (from French ballade, French pronunciation: ​[baˈlad], and German Ballade, German pronunciation: [baˈlaːdə], both being words for "ballad"), in classical music since the late 18th century, refers to a setting of a literary ballad, a narrative poem, in the musical tradition of the Lied, or to a one-movement instrumental piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities reminiscent of such a song setting, especially a piano ballad.

Romantic ballades[edit]

In late 18th century German literature, the term ballade was used to describe folklike narrative poetry (following Johann Gottfried Herder), some of which was set to music by composers such as Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Carl Friedrich Zelter, and Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg. In the nineteenth century, Robert Schumann and Carl Loewe also composed ballades.

Instrumental ballades[edit]

In the 19th century, the title was given by Frédéric Chopin to four important, large-scale piano pieces, the Ballades Nos. 1 to 4, Opp. 23, 38, 47, 52, the first significant application of the term to instrumental music. A number of other composers subsequently used the title for piano pieces, including Johannes Brahms (the third of his Klavierstücke, Op. 118, and the set of four Ballades, Op. 10), Edvard Grieg (Ballade in the Form of Variations, Op. 24, a set of variations), Claude Debussy, Friedrich Baumfelder (for example his Two Ballades, Op. 47, and No. 2 from his Op. 285), Franz Liszt (who wrote two) and Gabriel Fauré (Op. 19, later arranged for piano and orchestra). Ballades for instruments other than the piano have also been written. 20th-century examples of the form include the three ballades of Manolis Kalomiris, the six ballades of Frank Martin (composed for instruments such as the cello, viola, flute, and saxophone), and Einojuhani Rautavaara's Ballade for Harp and Strings.

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