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The musical term capriccio (from the Italian for “whim”or “caprice”), is of fairly early origin and, as its meaning would imply, describes compositions of some informality. Indeed the term itself is extremely elastic, having described certain 16th century madrigals, 17th century fugal keyboard pieces, works by the 18th century Bach and Handel, virtuoso violin studies by Paganini, exciting and colourful orchestral pieces by Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and exquisite little late piano pieces by Brahms, by which time it seems to have become interchangeable with the fantasia and even the intermezzo. Certainly, like the fantasia, the capriccio is far more a vehicle for the composer’s imagination than adherence to any particular musical form.

It is also the name of an opera by Richard Strauss