Agitato - "agitated"

I like the sound of that.

What are some examples of "agitato" that were done really well? What exactly does it look like in practice? (For example, "allargando" is characterized by increased bow length (on a violin) and heavier weight and all of those exaggerated features that give the perception of broadening, as well as the simple slowing down.)

  • One that sticks out in my mind is Rachmaninoff's recording of Chopin's 2nd sonata, 4th movement youtu.be/TrQG-Z5gdfg?t=1044
    – D.R.
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 5:34

1 Answer 1


It generally means hurried or restless, so there is usually some speed involved. I know that, when I use it in the middle of a movement, I want più mosso - the rest of the restlessness I will provide. That will be true of most examples: the composer will have provided restless harmonic rhythm, or unstable harmonies, or broken phrasing, or a marked amount of dissonance, etc., or any or all of the above. There are probably almost as many ways of being restless as there are people.

A notable example:

  • It is worth noting that the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata is Presto Agitato. It may very well be that you can have a slower yet still aggressive piece. For the most part you are correct.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 17:44
  • @NeilMeyer, I know. Agitato is really an expression marking. My own use of agitato is often for tempi that might be described as poco allegro or, when used in the middle of a piece, as poco più mosso.
    – user16935
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 1:25

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