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n. pl. ri·tor·nel·li (-lē) or ri·tor·nel·los
1. An instrumental interlude recurring after each stanza in a vocal work.
2. A passage or section for full orchestra in a concerto or aria.
3. An instrumental interlude in early 17th-century opera.
4. The refrain of a rondo.

[Italian, diminutive of ritorno, return, from ritornare, to return, from Vulgar Latin *retornāre; see return.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -los or -li (-liː)
1. (Classical Music) an orchestral passage between verses of an aria or song
2. (Classical Music) a ripieno passage in a concerto grosso
Also called: ritornel, ritornelle or ritournelle
[C17: from Italian, literally: a little return, from ritorno a return]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌrɪt ərˈnɛl oʊ)

n., pl. -los, -li (-li)
1. an orchestral interlude between arias, scenes, or acts in 17th-century opera.
2. a tutti section in a concerto grosso, aria, etc.
[1665–75; < Italian, diminutive of ritorno return]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Relatively least represented in Kapralova's compositional output is chamber music, but the compositions she did produce in this medium are among her most remarkable, from the early string quartet to her last opus--the ritornel for cello and piano.
E di domenica mattina e tutto in festa il paesel, suona la banda contadina un vecchio e allegro ritornel. E giunto appena il mezzodi in piazza ancor, son tutti li ma, a un tratto un forte scampanio richiama a messa i suoi fedel.
Mors Saulis et Jonathae is the more colorful, with programmatic symphonies (a prelude titled "Noise of War" [Rumor bellicus]; a "symphonie de l'enchantement" introducing the Witch of Endor's attempts to call up Samuel from the underworld; other evocative ritornels); and an extraordinary chorus (reacting to the news of Saul's and Jonathan's deaths) intensified by wrenching augmented sixths and augmented octaves.