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A rhapsody was originally a poem or part of a poem performed by Greek wandering singers, the rhapsodes . Today, rhapsody is a vocal or instrumental work that is not tied to any particular form in music . The musical themes of the rhapsody are regularly loosely connected to one another; they can be given in fleeting, disjointed musical thoughts that do not necessarily build on or refer to one another. In this respect, the term “rhapsodic” sometimes serves as a slightly disparaging value judgment, where it is intended to indicate the lack of a large form context in a sentence as a whole.

Mostly the themes and motifs come from folk music. Rhapsodies were u. a. by Johannes Brahms , Claude Debussy , Maurice Ravel ( Rhapsodie Espagnole ), George Gershwin ( Rhapsody in Blue ), George Enescu ( Romanian Rhapsodies ), Antonín Dvořák ( Slavic Rhapsody ), Ralph Vaughan Williams ( Norfolk Rhapsody ), John Serry senior ( American Rhapsody ) and Franz Liszt ( Hungarian Rhapsodies ).

The Rhapsodies of Franz Liszt are based on so-called Gypsies have, the main characteristic of the so-called Gypsy minor -Tonleiter small third , excessive fourth , smaller sixth and large Septime 's. Nonetheless, Liszt took into account the prevailing musical tastes in the salons of his time in his compositions . With the 18th Variation - Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Rachmaninoff provided an interpretation of the term that corresponds to his style.

The rock band Queen takes up the rhapsodic principle in the piece Bohemian Rhapsody .

The doctor Johann Christian Reil used the word rhapsody for his famous writing Rhapsodies about the application of the psychic curse method on mental disruptions . In it he deals with the entire field of psychiatry in an informal lecture ("rhapsodizing") form (cf. Rhapsode ).


  • Walter Salmen: History of the Rhapsody. Atlantis Verlag, 1966

Web links

Wiktionary: Rhapsody  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Library of Congress Copyright Office, American Rhapsody , Composer: John Serry Sr., Copyright: Alpha Music, New York, New York, USA, 1957, http://www.copyright.gov/records
  2. Johann Christian Reil: Rhapsodies on the application of the psychic curse method on mental disruptions. Curtsche Buchhandlung, Halle 1803, 1818 ( digitized , digitized and full text in the German text archive , title page ).
  3. Martin Schrenk: About dealing with the mentally ill. The development of psychiatric therapy from the “moral regime” in England and France to the “psychological curative methods” in Germany. Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 1973 (= monographs from the entire field of psychiatry. Volume 10), p. 79.
  4. Werner Leibbrand , Annemarie Wettley : The madness. History of Western Psychopathology. Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau and Munich 1961 (= Orbis Academicus , II, 12), p. 394 and 399.