Rhapsody (from the Greek. Rhapsodía – singing or recitation singing epic poems; epic poem, a song of a rhapsody) is a free-form vocal or instrumental work consisting of several contrasting episodes.
Rhapsody is characterized by the alternation of diverse episodes on folk song material. It is as if recreating the performance of an ancient Greek singer-rapeseed.
Rhapsody (Greek rhapsodói, from rhápto – stitch, compose and ode – song), ancient Greek wandering performers of epic poems. Unlike aeds, the Rhapsody recited a chant, without musical accompaniment, the text of epic poems, especially Homer, already enshrined in oral or written tradition. In the classical era of Ancient Greece (5–4 centuries BC), the art of Rhapsody became part of theatrical art and lasted until the beginning of late antiquity (1st century AD), assuming the character of musical meloeclamation.
The first samples of this genre date back to the end of the 18th century, but F. Liszt, the author of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies and Spanish Rhapsody, was its true creator. Reliance on Hungarian and Gypsy folk music, carefully selected and masterfully crafted by the composer, is clearly palpable in them. The sheet in its rhapsodies reveals the rich treasury of its melodies, rhythms and genres.
Here you can find a knightly proud dance procession, and free recitative – narration, and characteristic figures that imitate the sound of violins and cymbals, and, of course, chardash – an incendiary whirlwind dance. Each rhapsody in its own way combines different sections – slow and fast, more improvisational and based on the variational method of development.
In contrast to Listov’s rhapsodies for piano I. Brahms are small, quite strict in form of the piece. Many composers of the late XIX century. called rhapsodies large-scale works for an orchestra or solo instrument with an orchestra. Often this name is pretty arbitrary. So, in the orchestra “Spanish Rhapsody” by M. Ravel, the sequence of different episodes is enlarged to compare four independent plays, as a result of which the rhapsody, in essence, turns into a suite.
In Ragodia on the Paganini Theme for piano and orchestra by S. V. Rachmaninov, the composer, on the contrary, chooses such a monolithic form, saturated with intensive internal development, that the composition takes the form of a kind of concert.