Definition of pianissimo in US English:


adjective & adverb

  • (especially as a direction) very soft or softly.

    • ‘The feathery pianissimo lightness in the upper strings against the mezzo forte melody lower down is perfectly weighted.’
    • ‘From the furiously fast runs of the opening to the lyrical to the rapturous to pianissimo trills that were hardly there, the playing was stunning.’
    • ‘There was some impressive solo playing from the woodwind principals in this performance and the orchestra produced a beautifully controlled pianissimo ending.’
    • ‘Because of the frequent register changes, the student continually must be moving to and preparing for the next sound in order to create a fluid, legato line within a predominantly pianissimo dynamic range.’
    • ‘The conductor emphasises them strongly against pianissimo strings to marvelous effect, more so than in any other interpretation on disc.’


  • A passage marked to be performed very softly.

    • ‘Today's pianists must work with plastic, wood, felt,, copper, iron and steel to make all kinds of sounds ranging from delicate pianissimos to robust fortissimos.’
    • ‘She makes great use of pianissimi and the way she controls the legato gives her performances a subtlety not often heard.’
    • ‘And as performance dates drew close rehearsals became almost terrifying in their propulsive, impelling commitment - pianissimos were scaled to a whisper and fortes forceful and triumphant.’
    • ‘Few pianists produce such gorgeous pianissimos!’
    • ‘The surging waves of orchestral sound, radiant pianissimos and brilliant flashes of color were awesome!’


Italian, superlative of piano (see piano).