Encyclopedia > Minuet

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A minuet is a dance for two persons, in 3/4 time. The word was adapted, under the influence of the Italian minuetto, from the French menuet, meaning small, pretty, delicate, a diminutive of -menu, from the Latin minutus; the word refers probably to the short steps, pas menus, taken in the dance. At the period when it was most fashionable it was slow, ceremonious, and graceful.

The name is also given to a musical composition written in the same time and rhythm, but when not accompanying an actual dance the pace was quicker. An example of the true form of the minuet is to be found in Don Giovanni. The minuet is frequently found as one of the movements in the Suites of Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach. Joseph Haydn introduced it into the symphony, with little trace of the slow grace and ceremony of the dance. In the hands of Ludwig van Beethoven it becomes the scherzo.

This page was originially from a well-known 1911 encyclopedia.

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