Sinfonietta (symphony)

A sinfonietta is a symphony that is smaller in scale (either in terms of length or the instrumental forces required), or lighter in approach than a standard symphony. Although of Italian form, the word is not genuine in that language and has seldom been used by Italian composers. It appears to have been coined in 1874 by Joachim Raff for his Op. 188, but became common usage only in the early 20th century (Temperley 2001).

Just as the term symphony itself can refer to pieces of music of varied size and scope, it is difficult to identify common criteria which pieces called sinfonietta share. Many of the sinfoniettas listed on this page employ larger forces and/or are longer than pieces designated symphonies, sometimes even by the same composer.

Examples of sinfoniettas include:


  • Temperley, Nicholas. 2001. "Sinfonietta." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further readingEdit

  • Alvarez, Alberto J. 2007. Sinfonietta en re de Ernesto Halffter. Málaga: Ediciones Maestro. ISBN 978-84-96644-50-2.
  • Bird, Steven Carl. 1985. "Folk Material and Its Relationship to Structure and Form in Janácek's Sinfonietta". Acta Janáčkiana 2:64-75.
  • Kemp, Ian. 1998. "Sinfonietta 1950: Colour of Design". In Hindemith-Jahrbuch/Annales Hindemith, no. 27:180–96.
  • Krier, Yves. 1998. "La Sinfonietta: Une introduction à l'art classique roussélien". Musurgia: Analyse et Pratique Musicales 5, nos. 3–4:163–90.
  • Loll, Werner. 1992. "Ein Spiel mit Moden und Traditionen: Zur Sinfonietta op. 23". Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 47, no. 4 (April): 190–98.
  • Palacios Nieto, María. 2006. "Nueva música sinfónica: Acogida crítica y análisis de Sinfonietta". Cuadernos de Música Iberoamericana, no. 11 ("Monográfico dedicado a Ernesto Halffter (1905–1989) en su centenario", edited by Emilio Casares Rodicio): 123–40.
  • Schmitz, Eugen. 1905. Max Reger's Sinfonietta. Münchner Broschüren 4. Munich: G. Müller.