Definition of sostenuto in US English:



  • (of a passage of music) to be played in a sustained or prolonged manner.

    • ‘Myaskovsky saves his grief for the Rachmaninov-like Molto sostenuto central movement, which rises twice to a searing climax.’
    • ‘The second finale replaces the sostenuto passage in the first finale with a ghostly toccata.’
    • ‘There are some beautifully expressive moments in the second Andante sostenuto movement in this concerto.’
    • ‘Particularly memorable was the heart-stopping sostenuto passage leading up to the discovery of Susanna in the closet, with its perfectly judged tempo di rubato and sense of hushed bewilderment.’


  • 1A passage to be played in a sustained or prolonged manner.

    • ‘The dreamy, Chopinesque poetry of the Adagio sostenuto was exquisitely molded.’
    • ‘The lovely Andante sostenuto is also very well managed with a particular singing melody attributed to the strings, who play with dreamy charm.’
    • ‘You'll hear no catchy runs or sostenutos, no aria-like Mozart-esque musicality.’
    • ‘His darkly burnished sound in the Andante sostenuto was all warmth and violinistic molten lava.’
    • ‘The inner movements are also very beautifully paced with great introspection to be found in the lovely Andante sostenuto.’
    1. 1.1 The performance of a passage in a sustained or prolonged manner.
      • ‘In poise and sostenuto, her Carmen is full not only of sexiness but somehow sex itself.’
      • ‘She ran away with the show as Liu, bringing clarity to both her deepest, most vociferous registers and to her challenging tremolos over sostenuto in the highest notes.’
      • ‘Chapter Eight is about sustaining the voice and gives exercises for developing sostenuto.’
      • ‘I've always felt that the piano accompaniment of Das verlassene Mägdlein lacks sostenuto and is hard to bring off.’
      • ‘Exercises for developing sostenuto, legato, trill, rapid scales, messa di voce and other vocal techniques are included.’


Italian, ‘sustained’.