Definition of sforzando in US English:


(also sforzato)

adjective & adverb

  • (especially as a direction) with sudden emphasis.

    • ‘Moreover, the Quartet's second movement exposes in the middle of brutal sforzato accents a small piece of beautiful Jewish music, at a time when the Holocaust was still neglected by the regime's official memory of the great patriotic war.’
    • ‘The extensive pizzicati played by Mr. Mezö on the cello part in the second movement (Andante con moto quasi allegretto) of the Beethoven were beautifully executed, too, graceful at times and raucously sforzando when needed.’
    • ‘Straightaway, one feels Schubert's love of the theatre from the solemn opening measures, the sforzando downbeat setting in motion curving string lines to explore different key textures, visionary and remote for their period.’


  • A sudden or marked emphasis.

    • ‘The final two bars, with their fermatas and sforzandos, are much more theatrical and formidable than Schubert's.’
    • ‘In the fourth movement (Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile) the pizzicato sforzandos were very accurate, loud, and pleasing to hear, as was the high playing of the first violin in the Presto.’
    • ‘There are some very unique parts with its prominent sforzati and plenty of agogism.’
    • ‘The two hands play the motif simultaneously in contrary motion, rising and descending twice, emphasized by sforzandi.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was the overzealous con brio on the part of cellist Andrés Díaz: maybe there are a lot of sforzandi in the score, but from where I sat I heard more percussive bowstrikes than pure tone more often than I would have liked.’


Italian, literally ‘using force’.