In the Classical Period, the rondo/rondeaux was a French instrumental form that was usually allegro, vivacious, and light in character.
A refrain alternates with one or more episodes, occasionally referred to as "digressions" or "couplets".
Within an instrumental sonata of symphonic work, Rondos are generally found in the fast finales or in slow second movements.
Possible patterns for a rondo include:
A is the refrain while B and C are episodes.
- J.S. Bach: E Major Violin Concerto, III. Allegro assai
- W.A. Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 4 in E Flat Major, III. Rondo
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Fur Elise
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First, click on the link for Fur Elise in the "Suggested Listening" box above and listen through the whole piece. Could you tell the difference between the refrain and the episodes? Look at the next few pages to see how you did!
The section below is the A section, or the refrain. You can hear this material at the beginning of the Fur Elise, and it is repeated several times throughout the piece.