Definition of pastorale in English:



  • 1Music
    A slow instrumental composition in compound time, usually with drone notes in the bass.

    ‘the pastorales in Handel's Messiah and Corelli's Christmas Concerto’
    • ‘He strongly felt the consoling power of the music in the pastorale, and Silverman recognizes the ambiguity in the title, which means both ‘woman rocking a cradle ‘and ‘lullaby.’’
    • ‘Van Gogh also wrote movingly of the music he heard at the pastorale, and that when he went home after the play, ‘it was the first time I slept without a bad nightmare’.’
    • ‘Movement III unfolds as a graceful pastorale in 6/8 time, presenting the melody twice in its entirety, adding gravity through use of an ostinato-like pedal line.’
    • ‘It actually contains a prelude and three dances a well as the pastorale movement - a popular idiom of the period.’
    • ‘It may seem odd, then, that almost nothing is known about him… The Cloud Messenger is a poetic monologue in 210 stanzas; if one were to place it approximately in a genre of European verse, one could call it a pastorale.’
    • ‘The Concertante pastorale from 1951 sounds moonlit.’
    • ‘The Fall of Berlin has battle scenes galore modelled on the Leningrad Symphony, though there is also a cringe-making pastorale.’
  • 2A simple musical play with a rural subject.

    ‘these two short pastorales are considered the earliest true operas in French’
    • ‘Now in Blackburn you will find a naturalist for whom fall arrives when a leaf is floating on the dirty water of a city fountain - and the poem IS a pastorale, is a source of value.’
    • ‘Traditional Basque plays known as pastorales, which possibly related to medieval mystery plays, are still performed at festivals.’
    • ‘Silverman confirms that during this time of year, Arles was awash in santons, crèches, and performances of pastorales, Nativity plays.’
    • ‘Silverman and her research assistants even located the text of the actual pastorale that was performed that day in Arles (researchers take note: the text was found not in the Arles municipal archives but in the New York Public Library).’
    • ‘Catherine Stine's still-life oil pastorales are vignettes of a time when pre-Disney Pooh and The Wind in the Willows demarcated a child's world.’
    • ‘It's an oxymoron but ‘Unconditional’ is an urban pastorale.’


Early 18th century: from Italian, literally pastoral (adjective used as a noun).