Definition of ritornello in English:



  • 1A short instrumental refrain or interlude in a vocal work.

    • ‘Thus, after just a handful of bars of ritornello, delivered at a breakneck speed, the soloist enters at, and insists upon, a much more sedate and measured tempo.’
    • ‘Pärt uses wind as well as strings, and separates the settings of the texts with instrumental ritornelli and interludes, which sometimes have a neoclassical feeling, not that far removed from Stravinsky.’
    • ‘All begin with an orchestra ritornello before the entry of the solo instrument, and then branch out.’
    • ‘Joseph and Adrian sing the third and fifth lines whilst the remaining four lines are instrumental, creating instrumental ritornelli around the vocal lines.’
    • ‘Where the ritornello makes way for the voice, the arranger of the Halifax score tends to support the vocal line by doubling, outlining the harmonies, or supplying simple countermelodies in the instrumental lines.’
    1. 1.1A recurring tutti section in a concerto.
      • ‘One of the encores that was demanded by the appreciative audience was a charming Italian air, with a pleasing pastoral ritornello.’


Italian, diminutive of ritorno return.