scher·​zo | \ ˈskert-(ˌ)sō How to pronounce scherzo (audio) \
plural scherzos or scherzi\ ˈskert-​(ˌ)sē How to pronounce scherzi (audio) \

Definition of scherzo

: a sprightly humorous instrumental musical composition or movement commonly in quick triple time

Examples of scherzo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Muti brought a spirit of whimsy and considerable rhythmic buoyancy to the second movement scherzo, the orchestra’s seemingly nonchalant virtuosity evident in the brass’s power and precision and the ensemble’s grandeur en masse. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Riccardo Muti opens his 10th season with vivid Shostakovich," 20 Sep. 2019 From the emphatic opener to the scherzo’s heroic chords, the pianist’s versatility and inventiveness were evident. Washington Post, "Zoltan Fejervari shows off his technique with a program of gems," 18 Nov. 2019 To a young listener, the belligerent scherzo or the supremely peppy and vigorous final movement may have the most appeal. Daniel Gelernter, National Review, "The Irresistible Beauty of Schubert," 2 Nov. 2019 The rough hewn Menuet (a scherzo in all but name) was similarly forceful. cleveland, "CityMusic Cleveland flourishes on first program with new director Amit Peled," 21 Oct. 2019 However, the order of those movements doesn’t follow the classical model of fast sonata form followed by a slow movement, a dance movement (usually a minuet or scherzo), and a fast sonata or rondo finale. Jessica Rudman,, "Review: Guest pianist Kevin Cole dazzles on a night of memorable melodies," 13 Oct. 2019 Even the scherzo, which can be craggy, had a wonderful malleable quality. Washington Post, "An old hand shines anew in Bruckner," 11 Oct. 2019 Go ahead and nominate associate principal horn Richard Sebring for best actor; his many solos in the scherzo played out like dramatic monologues, and some steely phrases even recalled the cadences of human speech. Zoë Madonna,, "Boston Symphony Orchestra begins Tanglewood season in style," 7 July 2019 However, the second movement scherzo didn’t match the rest for clarity or energy, and Nelsons’s conservative tempo dragged it down. Globe Staff,, "At Tanglewood, Andris Nelsons and BSO shake the Shed with long-awaited Verdi Requiem," 14 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scherzo.' 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 scherzo

1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scherzo

Italian, literally, joke, from scherzare

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Time Traveler for scherzo

Time Traveler

The first known use of scherzo was in 1852

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Statistics for scherzo

Last Updated

29 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Scherzo.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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How to pronounce scherzo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scherzo

formal : a lively, humorous piece of music that is played quickly

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Comments on scherzo

What made you want to look up scherzo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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