SERENADE (from Ital. serenata, Lat. serenus, bright; the Italian term being applied, partly by confusion with serus, late, and partly through the use of Serena cf. Gr. afMjvri as an epithet for the Moon, to a form of courting music played at night in the open air; whence also the synonym Notturno), in music; a term classically applied to a light kind of symphony, more rarely a piece of chamber music, in a light sonata style with several extra movements, and in a few cases (as in the two serenades of Beethoven) not containing any fully developed examples of first-movement form. The divertimento is a similar composition, more often for chamber music, and frequently on a scale altogether too small for the sonata style to show itself, though some examples by Mozart (e.g. those for strings and two horns) are very large. The cassation is a smaller composition, beginning (like Beethoven's serenade op. 8) with a march. The classics of the serenade forms are among the works of Mozart and Haydn. Mozart's larger and later serenades, from the " Haffner " serenade onwards, are among his most delightful and voluminous lighter instrumental works. His two serenades for eight wind instruments are more serious, and that in C minor (which he afterwards arranged as a string quintet) is a majestic work in four normal movements, which Mozart probably called a serenade only because he did not find the term octet then hi common use.
The typical scheme of a large serenade or divertimento differs from that of a symphony only in having six movements instead of four, the additions being another slow movement and minuet or scherzo. Beethoven's septet and Schubert's octet are on this plan, and are just as much serenades as Mozart's " Haffner " serenade, which is (not counting introductions) in eight movements with a kind of violin concerto in the middle. The six-movement scheme (though without the serenade style) was adopted by Beethoven in one of the profoundest and most serious works in all music, the string quartet in B flat, Op. 130.
Brahms's first essays in symphonic form took the shape of two orchestral serenades, of which the first was originally sketched for a large group . of solo instruments. If it had finally taken that form Brahms would have called it a divertimento.
Other applications of the term in music are merely literary. Even its use, from the i;th century onwards, for a kind of operetta was clearly no more than a natural allusion to the notion of serenades as addressed at night by minstrels to ladies and by clients to patrons. (D. F. T.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)