ru·​ba·​to | \ rü-ˈbä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce rubato (audio) \
plural rubatos

Definition of rubato

: a fluctuation of tempo within a musical phrase often against a rhythmically steady accompaniment

Examples of rubato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The pianist could’ve been more judicious with rubato around Grieg’s crashing chords, especially in the first movement cadenza. Globe Staff,, "At Tanglewood, Andris Nelsons and BSO shake the Shed with long-awaited Verdi Requiem," 14 July 2019 His flexible shaping of phrase and pulse bespoke a natural rubato that arose from within Debussy’s music rather than being imposed on it, nor was textural clarity won at the expense of coloristic detail or surging amplitude of sound. John Von Rhein,, "Kavakos offers impeccable Shostakovich with CSO, but gutsy passion in short supply," 9 Mar. 2018 Keeping the music moving with rubato phrasing of the utmost idiomatic naturalness is something Russian conductors like Bychkov do better than any. John Von Rhein,, "Semyon Bychkov electrifies Orchestra Hall with blazing CSO account of Tchaikovsky's 'Manfred'," 4 May 2018 In the slow second movement, tiny touches of rubato aerated the songlike solo lines. Zoë Madonna,, "Pianist Jan Lisiecki leads a youth movement at Symphony Hall," 20 Apr. 2018 The conductor used rubato to great effect, which only sharpened the sense that this was music stirring so urgently within the composer that putting it on paper was only an act of taking dictation from pure inspiration. Peter Dobrin,, "Jennifer Higdon's 'Low Brass Concerto' feels lyrical but cold in its Philadelphia premiere," 23 Feb. 2018 Her application of rubato alone kept Muti glued to the score. John Von Rhein,, "CSO presents a pretty premiere as part of Muti's dervish week of pre-tour activity," 29 Sep. 2017 Here, his exquisite rubato yielded magical results, beautifully articulated by the NSO strings. Tim Smith,, "Eschenbach puts distinctive stamp on Mahler's 'Resurrection' with NSO," 3 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rubato.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rubato

1855, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rubato

Italian, literally, robbed

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Time Traveler for rubato

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The first known use of rubato was in 1855

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Cite this Entry

“Rubato.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on rubato

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rubato Encyclopedia article about rubato

Comments on rubato

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a feeling of well-being or elation

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