Word of the Day : May 2, 2013

berceuse

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noun bair-SOOZ

Definition

1 : a musical composition usually in 6/8 time that resembles a lullaby

2 : lullaby

Did You Know?

The lullaby is a standard of classical music. German composer Johannes Brahms is perhaps best known for his "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Good evening, good night"), Op. 49, No. 4, published in 1868, purportedly written for a friend to celebrate the birth of her son. Compositionally, a berceuse is similar to a lullaby, particularly in its soothing refrain often set to a rocking rhythm usually in 6/8 time. Among the earliest examples of works known by that name is Frédéric Chopin's Berceuse in D-flat Major (1843-44), written for piano; Franz Liszt, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Maurice Ravel also composed berceuses. The word "berceuse" is indicative of its use as an aid to sleep-it derives from the French "bercer" ("to rock") and ultimately from the Old French "bers" ("cradle").


Examples

"After the equally calming signature tune, the berceuse from Faure's Dolly Suite, Oxenford and the other presenters began the programme with a question that became a catchphrase: 'Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.'" - From an obituary for Daphne Oxenford by Richard Anthony Baker in The Stage (London), January 17, 2013

"David Starobin, a classical guitarist who had contributed the colorful, mildly dissonant 'Berceuse Bas de Gamme' ('Cheap Lullaby'), and who runs Bridge Records, offered to release the set." - From an article by Allan Kozinn in the New York Times, April 2, 2013



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