Musical form characterized by the initial statement and periodic restatement of a melody alternately with contrasting material. It originated in the French Baroque harpsichord rondeau, where a refrain of 8 or 16 measures is played in alternation with a succession of couplets (episodes) so as to form a chainlike structure of variable length. Most rondos fall into either a five-part (abaca) or a seven-part (abacaba) form. The rondo was very popular in the late 18th and the early 19th centuries, frequently providing the form for the final movements of sonatas, quartets, symphonies, and concertos.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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