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Scherzo (Italian, “joke”), light, lively musical composition. The term most often refers to a movement in 3/4 meter (usually the third) of a sonata, symphony, or similar composition of the late 18th or 19th century; it developed from the minuet but was characterized by a much faster tempo and, frequently, a display of rhythmical humor and surprise (especially in the works of Ludwig van Beethoven). Some light vocal and instrumental compositions of the Baroque period, as well as some dramatic piano pieces by Frederick Chopin and Johannes Brahms, were also named scherzo.

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