from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Capriccio (from Italian, Mz. Capriccios ; Capricci ; correspondingly French caprice , from German Caprice , Kaprice , Kaprize , Mz. Caprices , Kapricen , Kaprizen ) denotes forms of music, painting and literature.

As the concept of art theory , it describes the deliberate, pleasurable violation of rules, the imaginative, playful transgression of academic norms without overriding the norm. Giorgio Vasari introduced the term into art history , who used it for everything that contradicted the art canon of his time. According to Werner Hofmann , many of the freedoms that modern art takes "from the drawing and reception offer of the Capriccio".


The origin of the word is unclear. The etymological dictionary of the German language by Friedrich Kluge suspects a combination of Italian capo (head) and riccio (hedgehog, sea urchin), from which the meaning “confused head” or “stubborn, capricious person” can be derived.

In modern usage, there are the following meanings:

  • il capriccio (Italian) = whim, quirk
  • le caprice (French) = the mood
  • capricious = moody, joking, idiosyncratic, witty, breaking the rules


The Capriccio is a piece of music of free, playful and joking character, which is little or not at all based on traditional musical forms . Early examples include the Capriccio on the Departure of Beloved Brother for harpsichord BWV 992 (approx. 1705) by Johann Sebastian Bach and a Capriccio by Johann Anton Losy von Losinthal († 1721). Ludwig van Beethoven wrote the Capriccio The Anger Over the Lost Groschen around 1795/98. Examples of solo violin are the 42 Etudes and Caprices (1796) by Rodolphe Kreutzer and the 24 Capricci op.1 (c. 1795/98) (first printed in 1820) by Niccolò Paganini , whose A minor Caprice became particularly popular when she was in several Paganini variations for piano by later contemporaries. Matteo Carcassi (1792–1853) wrote caprices and caprices for the guitar . The Capriccio Italy (1879/80) by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and the Capriccio espagnol (1887) by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow were written for orchestras . Richard Strauss plays in his last opera (premiered in 1942) with the title Capriccio . A conversation piece with music based on this musical genre.

Painting and graphics

Capriccio of Rome
( Giovanni Paolo Pannini , 1758)

In Baroque printmaking, the term means a series of sheets with a cover sheet in a small format, which show improvised scenes without being bound by a specific program and which pass from one subject to the next without committing to any order.

The term was introduced by Jacques Callot , who named a series of etchings made in 1617 for Duke Cosimo II. De 'Medici Capricci di varie figure .

A famous capriccio painter and graphic artist is Giovanni Battista Piranesi ; In addition to the famous carceri (“dungeons”), which are in and of themselves pure architectural visions, Piranesi also randomly compiled numerous Roman portraits and architectural elements on his vedute engravings . Often these capricci are the only documents of lost ancient works of art.


In the spirit of the Rococo , Ernst Jünger used Capriccios as a literary form in his work The Adventurous Heart . Figures and Capriccios (1938).

further reading

  • Kurt Wölfel: Capriccio. In: Aesthetic Basic Concepts , Vol. 7, Stuttgart 2010, pp. 66 ff.
  • Roland Kanz: The Art of Capriccio. Creative stubbornness in the Renaissance and Baroque (= Art Studies 103). Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich et al. 2003, ISBN 3-422-06392-7 , (also: Düsseldorf, Univ., Habil.-Schr., 2000).
  • Ekkehard Mai , Joachim Rees (ed.): Art form Capriccio. From the grotesque to modern game theory (= Art History Library 6). König, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-88375-291-6 .


  1. Ekkehard Mai: Foreword. In: Ders., Joachim Rees (Ed.): Kunstform Capriccio. From the grotesque to modern game theory (= Art History Library 6). König, Cologne, 1998, pp. 7–11, here p. 9.
  2. ^ Werner Hofmann, The Capriccio as an Art Principle. In: E. May / J. Rees (ed.): The capriccio as an art principle. On the prehistory of modernism from Arcimboldo and Callot to Tiepolo and Goya: painting - drawing - graphics. Skira, Milan 1996, p. 30.
  3. Hubert Zanoskar (ed.): Guitar playing of old masters. Original music from the 16th and 17th centuries. Volume 1. B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1955 (= Edition Schott. Volume 4620), p. 11.
  4. Ernst Dahlke (Ed.): Matteo Carcassi, Sonatinas and Caprices, op1 and op. 26. B. Schott's Sons, Mainz (= guitar archive. Volume 5).

See also

Web links