Serenade

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"Serenade" by Judith Leyster.

In music, a serenade (or sometimes serenata) is a song or piece of music which is sung or played in someone’s honour. The word comes from the Latin "serenare" meaning: "to make calm".

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance a serenade was usually a song which was sung by a lover underneath the window of his sweetheart in a country such as Spain. The lover may accompany himself on a guitar. This kind of serenade is often seen in operas, e.g. Mozart’s Don Giovanni . There is also a verb: to serenade, e.g. “the lover was serenading his sweetheart”.

In the Baroque period a serenade was a type of cantata performed outdoors, in the evening, with singers and various musical instrumentas. Composers who wrote this kind of serenade include Alessandro Stradella and Alessandro Scarlatti.

In the Classical music period the serenade became a piece of music for a small orchestra or a group of several instruments. They are similar to a symphony but lighter in character. They are often the same as a divertimento. Mozart wrote several serenades of this type, e.g. his famous Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Later composers such as Brahms also wrote orchestral serenades. Other Romantic composers often wrote short instrumental works which they called “serenades”. Also the word serenade is featured in the arctic monkey's song "reckless serenade".