A capriccio or caprice (sometimes plural: caprices, capri or, in Italian, capricci), is a piece of music, usually fairly free in form and of a lively character. The typical capriccio is one that is fast, intense, and often virtuosic in nature.
The term has been applied in disparate ways, covering works using many different procedures and forms, as well as a wide variety of vocal and instrumental forces. The earliest occurrence of the term was in 1561 by Jacquet de Berchem and applied to a set of madrigals. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, it could refer to madrigals, music intended alternatively for voices or instruments, or for strictly instrumental pieces, especially keyboard compositions (Schwandt 2001).
Listed by composer:
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Capriccio on the departure of a beloved brother
- Leoš Janáček: Capriccio (1926)
- György Ligeti: Due capricci (1947)
- Niccolò Paganini: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (1802–17)
- Krzysztof Penderecki: Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra (1967)
- Walter Piston: Capriccio for Harp and String Orchestra (1963)
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol (1887)
- Igor Stravinsky: Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra (1929)
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien (1880)
- William Walton: Capriccio burlesco (1968)
- Schwandt, Erich. 2001. "Capriccio (i)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
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