Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music An instrumental work with an improvisatory style and a free form.
  • n. A prank; a caper.
  • n. A whim.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sudden and unexpected or fantastic motion; a caper; a gambol; a prank, a trick.
  • n. A fantastical thing or work; a caprice.
  • n. A type of landscape painting that places particular works of architecture in an unusual setting.
  • n. A piece of music, usually fairly free in form and of a lively character.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A piece in a free form, with frequent digressions from the theme; a fantasia; -- often called caprice.
  • n. A caprice; a freak; a fancy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A caprice; a whim. Also caprichio.
  • n. A musical composition in a free, irregular, and often whimsical style: first applied to deviations from strict forms, like the fugue, especially when in quick tempo, but now extended to any fancifully irregular piece. Also caprice.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an instrumental composition that doesn't adhere to rules for any specific musical form and is played with improvisation

Etymologies

Italian; see caprice.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • More than to any one of the master's scherzos, the name capriccio would be suitable to his third "Scherzo," Op. 39, with its capricious starts and changes, its rudderless drifting.

    Frederic Chopin as a Man and Musician

  • Were it not that we attach, especially since Mendelssohn's time, the idea of lightness and light-heartedness to the word capriccio, this would certainly be the more descriptive name for the things Chopin entitled SCHERZO.

    Frederic Chopin as a Man and Musician

  • This was also the heyday of the "capriccio," or architectural and landscape fantasy, established by Marco Ricci and developed by Canaletto and Tiepolo.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Jacquet also appears to have been the first to use ‘capriccio’ as a musical title.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • Cole painted this capriccio on commision for an architect famous for his Greek and Gothic Revival buildings, Ithiel Town.

    Capriccio in Art

  • In painting, a capriccio is an architectural fantasy that combines various buildings, ruins, or landscape elements into an extravagant juxtaposition.

    Capriccio in Art

  • Not a strict depiction of an actual locale, it is more in the Italian tradition of the capriccio, or imaginary scene.

    When They Were in Rome

  • He trembled lest he should have been the plaything of a whim, for he had heard what a capriccio might mean in an

    Albert Savarus

  • This is not a 100% historically accurate rendering, by the way, just a little capriccio.

    Veniceblog:

  • An _adagio_ may set a gouty father to sleep, and a _capriccio_ may operate successfully on the nerves of a valetudinary mother.

    Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery

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