For example, I know of two Carulli pieces named Andante Grazioso: Op 241 II nr 1 and Op 211 nr 2 but there are probably many more.

What does the names like Andante (Grazioso), Anglais, Minuet, Moderato, Suite, Rondo and Polonaise mean? Is there some naming scheme I'm not fully aware of? I understand that the name Waltz is always given to a piece played in 3/4 time.

And what about Op [num] Nr [num]? Op stands for "opus" so does that mean e.g Carulli has written hundreds of opuses? What does the second number mean? What is an "opus" in the context of classical music?

  • Look up the terms in a music dictionary, for example dolmetsch.com/musictheorydefs.htm.
    – user19146
    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:39
  • The meaning of these terms can be easily answered with an easy google search.
    – Neil Meyer
    Dec 14, 2016 at 5:46

2 Answers 2


Andante Grazioso and Moderato are tempo indications, it also could be a name of a piece. Like Mozart's Andante in F Major K.1 or Chopin's Allegretto in F-Sharp Major. I don't know where you got Anglais from, but it's French for "English". To see more of tempo indications, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo

The Minuet is a musical form originated from France, usually in 3/4 time. It's also a frequently used form in the Baroque Era. The Suite is not a piece but a set of pieces. Like Bach's Orchestral Suite in B Minor or Tchaikovsky's very well-known The Nutcracker Suite. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suite_(music)

Now the Rondo. The Rondo or sometimes referred as Rondeau is usually a music form and a character type that is distinct from the form.The Rondo usually goes in the form of A-B-A, A-B-A-C-A or A-B-A-C-A-B-A. The Rondo as a character type typically refers to a fast paced music normally Allegro or Allegretto. To learn more about the Rondo, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rondo

Now the Polonaise. It's usually a Polish dance musical form. Usually in 3/4 time. Johann Sebastian Bach also composed many Polonaise. But in fact, the most famous out of all the Polonaise is the Polonaise in Ab Major Op.53. See here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonaise

To learn more about musical forms, check this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_forms_by_era

Now Opus Numbers, Opus numbers are like Suites. In Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op.27, there are two pieces. Op.27 No.1 is in E Flat, and Op.27 No.2 is in C-Sharp Minor. It's usually an indication for a work. The Number is an indication for the number of works in an Opus number. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_number

Sometimes there would be a piece named like this, Beethoven, Piano sonata No.14 Op.27 No.2. The No.14 means that the Piano Sonata is the 14th one Beethoven had composed.


Opus numbers are a cataloguing system. They may be applied by the composer, or by a publisher or musicologist. They are not always completely chronologically consistent :-)

Where a composer doesn't give a piece a descriptive name ("Pixies in the moonlight") it will often be referred to by the first tempo or style instruction ("Allegro", "Andante"...) Or the piece may be in a standard dance style ("Waltz", "Polonaise", "Minuet"...) Note that while (almost) all waltzes are in 3/4, not all pieces in 3/4 are waltzes. In a world with Google, you don't need me to list the meaning of all such descriptions you may come accross!

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