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Interesting Tempo and Expression Markings

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
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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.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.