World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0002154883
Reproduction Date:

Title: Saltarello  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn), Estampie, Galliard, Symphony No. 57 (Haydn), Giovanni Picchi
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The saltarello was a lively, merry dance first mentioned in Naples during the 14th century. The music survives, but no early instructions for the actual dance are known. It was played in a fast triple meter and is named for its peculiar leaping step, after the Italian verb saltare ("to jump").


  • History 1
  • Saltarello as a folk dance 2
  • Medieval saltarelli 3
  • Saltarello in classical music 4
  • Saltarello in conmusic 5
  • Sources 6


Saltarello rhythm.[1]

The saltarello enjoyed great popularity in the courts of medieval Europe. During the 15th century, the word saltarello became the name of a particular dance step (a double with a hop on the final or initial upbeat), and the name of a meter of music (a fast triple), both of which appear in many choreographed dances. Entire dances consisting of only the saltarello step and meter are described as being improvised dances in 15th century Italian dance manuals. (The first dance treatise that dealt with the saltarello was the 1465 work of Antonio Cornazzano.) This step and meter do not appear in 16th century dance manuals, except in passing. During this era, the saltarello was danced by bands of courtesans dressed as men at masquerades. The saltarello gave birth to the quadernaria in Germany, which was then fused into the saltarello tedesco (German saltarello) in Italy.

Saltarello as a folk dance

Although a Neapolitan court dance in origin, the saltarello became the typical Italian folk dance of Ciociaria and a favorite tradition of Rome in the Carnival and vintage festivities of Monte Testaccio. After witnessing the Roman Carnival of 1831, the German composer Felix Mendelssohn incorporated the dance into the finale of one of his masterpieces, the Italian Symphony. The only example of a saltarello in the North is saltarello romagnolo of Romagna.

The saltarello is still a popular folk dance played in the regions of Southern-Central Italy, such as tamburello.

Medieval saltarelli

The principal source for the medieval Italian saltarello is the Tuscan manuscript Add MS 29987, dating from the late 14th or early 15th century and now in the British Library. The musical form of these four early saltarelli is the same as the estampie.

Saltarello in classical music

  • Tielman Susato included a Saltarello as part of Danserye (1551)
  • A guitar piece entitled "Saltarello" is attributed to Vincenzo Galilei, written in the 16th century
  • Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy used the Saltarello for the 4. movement of his Symphony No.4 "Italian"
  • Charles-Valentin Alkan used the Saltarello in his "Saltarelle" Op. 23, and in the final movement of his Sonate de Concert Op. 47 for piano and cello, "Finale alla Saltarella"
  • Berlioz used the Saltarello in the Carnival scene of Benvenuto Cellini which was reprised in the Roman Carnival Overture.
  • One of Frank Bridge's Miniatures for Piano Trio is a Saltarello (No 5).
  • Jules Demersseman: Solo de Concert, Op. 82 No. 6 for Flute and piano. The closing movement is entitled Saltarello

Saltarello in conmusic

Besides ensembles for historically informed performance, within the last 20 years this piece was also arranged by several rather modern ensembles of gothic, metal, neoclassical and romantic medieval music. One notable example is the song Saltarello from the Aion album by the alternative-romantic band Dead Can Dance, which might actually be a misinterpretation as the song uses a common time rather than expected 6
. Interpretations by the Polish jazz pianist Leszek Możdżer, Chilean early music ensemble Calenda Maia and English guitarists John Renbourn and John Williams can also be found.

Interpretations by Italian musician Angelo Branduardi can also be found in his songs "Il trattato dei miracoli", "Pioggia", "Saltarello, Lamento di Tristano e Rotta". Composer Jesper Kyd also composed a track called "Meditation Begins" for the Assassin's Creed score that is a saltarello-type arrangement with an ominous overtone, a sample of which can be heard at the page for the score. In the game's sequel it can also be heard in the carnival part of Venice.


  1. ^ Blatter, Alfred (2007). Revisiting music theory: a guide to the practice, p.28. ISBN 0-415-97440-2.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.