Definition of adagio in English:


adjective & adverb

  • (especially as a direction) in slow time.

    • ‘The adagio finale is textually simple and emotionally complicated.’
    • ‘Watching Barbara helps me with adagio sections.’
    • ‘The hushed surprise of the adagio introduction gave way to the driving rhythmic thrust of the Allegro molto.’
    • ‘The comedic and tragic aspects of his themes come together in an adagio section set to Peggy Lee's ‘Is That All There Is?’’
    • ‘Rapture possesses an ecstatic energy in its allegro passages and an understanding and acceptance of life's struggles in its adagio section that reach the viewer unmediated by any kind of conceptual fanciness.’
    • ‘Sunny played the song again, but this time at a placid adagio place.’
    • ‘Potts nipped away, unsleeved a brittle record, Beethoven, something traditional, and set the adagio movement from the seventh into slow, crackling motion.’
    • ‘The shorter second movement in C minor involves some more complex harmonies, and the last movement is the most interesting of the four - a fugal movement based on a chromatic theme, closing with an adagio section.’
    • ‘In the adagio solo at the center of George Balanchine's Square Dance, Peter Boal exudes a beautiful meditative melancholy from each perfectly articulated phrase.’
    • ‘Peter Sheppard Skærved, who writes the compendious notes, wonders if Beethoven himself might have written the adagio variation.’
    • ‘Her ability, in the celebrated adagio movement of Symphony in C, to give the abstract choreography a deep, soulful dimension earned her comparison with predecessors like Suzanne Farrell and Allegra Kent.’
    • ‘During one adagio segment, solemn bells signal an ominous invasion, which soon occurs: strings swoop down like winged demons from a Gustave Doré print - several times.’
    • ‘In lyrical roles, most notably the adagio movement of Symphony in C, her gangly body with its penchant for rakish angles softened into willow-tree pliancy and she achieved a poignancy that seemed to arise from the music and be one with it.’
    • ‘She began to tremble in fear when her heart's steady pace quickened into a fast-paced minuet, her breath's stable rhythm raced into a sixteenth note, and her feet's adagio tempo sped into a presto.’
    • ‘The pianissimo phrases, the legato notes that would have been on strings, the adagio pace… all the way until the gentle perfect cadence.’
    • ‘He remarked that the adagio speed requires ‘more ample movements’ than the allegro, where notes are ‘tossed off’, whereas in presto there is ‘great physical abandon’.’
    • ‘Bagger's vivacious approach underscores the dance character of these pieces and when he drops the tempo, it falls rarely below adagio and not for long.’
    unhurriedly, without hurrying, at a leisurely pace, at a slow pace, leisurely, steadily, taking one's time, in one's own good time
    View synonyms


  • A movement, passage, or composition marked to be performed adagio.

    • ‘There are more sensuous pauses and pensive gulfs between his allegrettos and adagios.’
    • ‘‘The Breaking Heart’ is an adagio with somewhat maudlin overtones.’
    • ‘Karolyi chooses the adagio from Beethoven's Cello Sonata No.5.’
    • ‘The adagio is indeed not too slow: it whizzed by me almost unnoticed.’
    • ‘After a cadenza closing on a dominant triad, the music's insouciance is tempered by a grave adagio in four parts, riddled with dissonant suspensions painfully resolved in a decorated cadence in the tonic major.’
    • ‘However, the adagio ends with an 11 bar section containing shorter notes, which suddenly gives an impression of greater intensity.’
    • ‘The audience was often tricked by cadences that felt as though they should lead into the famous adagio.’
    • ‘The outer movements are undistinguished but the central adagio swoons with escapist yearnings for the unattainable.’
    • ‘The Fifth Symphony is one of a series of works of a beauty of which evokes the haunting adagios of Mahler.’
    • ‘And, in the recollection of the father's clumsy attempt to play the adagio from Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata, our sympathy for him is short-circuited by the daughter's memory of her own laughter.’
    • ‘In performing these youthful works, the Angeles String Quartet played with such deft skill, there was an abundance of dulcet adagios, energetic allegros, and gracious minuets.’
    • ‘The striking thing about this album is the range of styles he dabbles in - from grand bossa novas to soft adagios.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the adagio presents the violist and pianist with a tour de force: fourteen minutes of slow playing at a dynamic range restricted mostly to soft.’
    • ‘Morgan used gorgeous music, the adagio from Mozart's Concerto in A Major for Clarinet and Orchestra, played lusciously by David Jones and the Kennedy Center Orchestra under conductor Ron J. Matson.’
    • ‘Its second section, an adagio, is charmingly Brahmsian while the ensuing scherzo sets two original themes against each other at breakneck speed, bristling with impossibilities.’
    • ‘However, with Silvestrov, the feel of the scherzo imbues the adagio so that what was once regarded as solemn is now seen as vacuous and illusory.’
    • ‘The adagio from the String Quartet Number 4 was a more contemplative, soothing piece.’
    • ‘For the slow movement, Simpson acknowledges his debt to Bruckner's adagios.’
    • ‘Unlike his usual style, the symphony ends with an adagio that includes some of the most anguished music he ever composed.’
    • ‘A masterpiece of an adagio, it has a somber, moving and melancholic quality.’


Italian, from ad agio ‘at ease’.