In musical circles, a Rhapsody is a single movement instrumental, irregular in form and of a free flowing nature, thereby suggestive of improvisation. The musical term rhapsody was used in ancient Greece as a description of significant poetic narration. It first appeared in an early 19th century work by Czech composer Václav Tomášek.

Rhapsodies can be inspired by a number of things like folk melodies or nationalism. Thus, the rhapsody evokes a sense of passion, or patriotic or nostalgic remembrance. Then too, Spanish music and dance also had a strong influence on the musical form of rhapsodies.

The eastern European composers of the 1800s were fascinated with folk music and gyspy violin. These musical forms largely influenced the composers as well as the future of cultural rhapsodies. For example, Franz Liszt wrote a series of 19 rhapsodies from 1846-1885 which he named 'Hungarian Rhapsody.' The first 15 he wrote from 1946 to 1853. Imagine writing 15 major compositions in only seven years. The final four rhapsodies Liszt composed from 1882 to 1885. Antonín Dvořák gained his inspiration from folk songs, as in his 'Slavonic Rhapsodies.'

Composer Claude Debussy wrote rhapsodies for saxaphone and clainet drawing on his legendary innovative style and the improvinary nature of the rhapsody. For George Gershin, 'Rhapsody in Blue' beconed his love for jazz. In more recent times, Freddie Mercury of the rock band Aerosmith composed 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in 1975, a six movement piece with no chorus which immediately become very popular around the world.

Romantic Rhapsody


Composed by Emmanuel Chabier 1883

Modern Rhapsody

'Rhapsody in Blue'

Composed by George Gershwin 1924

Renowned Rhapsodies with composers arranged by date














'Six Rhapsodies for Piano, op 4
'Hungarian Rhapsodies' 1-15
'Hungarian Rhapsodies' 16-19
'Alto Rhapsody' op 53
'Two Piano Rhapsodies' op79
'Romanian Rhapsodies'
'Norfolk Rhapsody number 1'
'A Shropshire Lad'
'Rhapsodie Negre'
'Rhapsody in Blue'
'Two Rhapsodies'
'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Václav Tomášek
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Emmanuel Chabrier
George Enescu
Vaughan Williams
George Sainton Kaye Butterwort
Francis Poulenc
George Gershwin
Václav Tomášek
Sergey Rachmaninov