Allegro (music)

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Allegro ( Italian ; "quick, lively, cheerful, cheerful") is a musical performance designation that has been used for a lively movement since the early 17th century. However, it was initially more of a character designation than a specific tempo indication . Only in the 18th century did the change to a pure tempo rule with the meaning fast (but less fast than the Presto ). As such, it was subsequently also used in compositions that appear pleonastic (Allegro giocoso, "cheerful funny") or absurd (Allegro irato, "cheerful angry") compared to the original sense of the word . While Leopold Mozart stuck to the original sense of the word in 1756, z. For example, the requirement Allegro assai in Beethoven's Appassionata is a mere tempo indication, the literal translation of which with “very funny” is forbidden as absurd.

The noun allegrezza , derived from allegro , is still used in the original sense of the word. This shows e.g. For example, the very detailed lecture instructions for the introductory “Promenade” of Mussorgski's piano cycle Pictures at an Exhibition : Allegro giusto, nel modo russico, senza allegrezza, ma poco sostenuto . This contains both: Allegro as a tempo indication, senza allegrezza (without cheerfulness) as a character designation.

Allegro can also occasionally be used to give titles to pieces of music (e.g. Allegro de concert, op. 46 by Chopin , Allegro barbaro by Béla Bartók ).

The diminutive Allegretto (a little allegro ) denotes a somewhat slower tempo that is somewhere between Allegro moderato and Andante con moto . Often a light and graceful character is intended by this regulation, but this is not mandatory: Allegretto can - like allegro  - also function as a character-neutral tempo designation.

Audio sample

Etude Op. 25, No. 6, Frédéric Chopin - listen ? / iAudio file / audio sample


  • Wilibald Gurlitt , Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (Hrsg.): Riemann Music Lexicon , subject part. Schott, Mainz 1967, p. 26 f
  • Friedrich Gersmann: Classical tempo for classical music. Part 4. In: Guitar & Lute. Volume 8, Issue 6, 1986, pp. 37-46, here: pp. 40 f. (there, according to Henry Lemoine and Fernando Sor, also: "quick", "moderately fast", "not too hasty")

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