Interesting Tempo and Expression Markings

Feb 12, 2021

Credit Mary Noble Ours

The most common tempo markings in music are words like allegro, adagio, and andante. But often composers indicate expression along with tempo, and this is when foreign-language dictionaries can come in handy. I could make a long list of interesting tempo and expression markings, but here are two of my favorites: Rasendes Zeitmass, Wild, Tonschönheit is nebensache: Racing tempo, Wild, Beauty of tone is irrelevant. That’s Paul Hindemith’s marking for the fourth movement of his Sonata for Solo Viola, Op. 25, No. 1.

And here’s Mozart having fun with the instructions for the last movement of his A Major flute quartet: Rondieaoux: Allegretto grazioso, ma non troppo presto, però non troppo adagio. Così-così—con molto garbo ed espressione" Rondiaoo: A graceful allegretto, but not too fast, however not too slow. So-so—with great elegance and expression".

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.