/min'yooh et"/, n.
1. a slow, stately dance in triple meter, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.
2. a piece of music for such a dance or in its rhythm.
[1665-75; < F menuet, equiv. to menu small (see MENU) + -et -ET; so called from the shortness of the dancers' steps]

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Dignified couple dance derived from a French folk dance, dominant in European court ballrooms in the 17th–18th century.

Using small, slow steps to music in 34 time, dancers often performed choreographed figures combined with stylized bows and curtsies. The most popular dance of the 18th-century aristocracy, it fell from favour after the French Revolution in 1789. It was of great importance in art music; commonly incorporated into the suite с 1650–1775, it was the only dance form retained in the symphony, sonata, string quartet, and other multimovement art-music genres up to с 1800.

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      (from French menu: “small”), elegant couple dance that dominated aristocratic European ballrooms, especially in France and England, from c. 1650 to c. 1750. Reputedly derived from the French folk dance branle de Poitou, the court minuet used smaller steps and became slower and increasingly etiquette-laden and spectacular. It was especially popular at the court of Louis XIV of France. Dancers, in the order of their social position, often performed versions with especially choreographed figures, or floor patterns, and prefaced the dance with stylized bows and curtsies to partners and spectators. The basic floor pattern outlined by the dancers was at first a figure 8 and, later, the letter Z.

      Musically, the minuet is in moderate triple time (as 3/4 or 3/8) with two sections: minuet and trio (actually a second minuet, originally for three instruments; it derives from the ballroom practice of alternating two minuets). Each consists of two repeated phrases (AA–BB), but the repetition may be varied (AA′–BB′). The overall form is minuet–trio–minuet. The minuet frequently appears in 18th-century suites (groups of dance pieces in the same key), and in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni onstage musicians play a minuet in the fourth act. Typically, the third movement of a Classical chamber work (e.g., string quartet) or symphony is a minuet. In most of his symphonies Beethoven replaced the minuet with a scherzo (although he did not always use that term as a designation for the movement), similar or identical in form but much faster and more exuberant. Neoclassical examples of the minuet include Johannes Brahms's Serenade No. 1 for orchestra, Opus 11 (1857–58), and Arnold Schoenberg's Piano Suite, Opus 25 (1923).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • minuet — (n.) slow dance in triple measure, 1670s, from Fr. menuet, from O.Fr. menuet (adj.) small, fine, delicate, narrow, from menu small, from L. minutus small, minute (see MINUTE (Cf. minute) (adj.)). So called from the short steps taken in the dance …   Etymology dictionary

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  • minuet — UK [ˌmɪnjuˈet] / US noun [countable] Word forms minuet : singular minuet plural minuets music a slow dance that was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, done by a man and woman together, or the music for this dance …   English dictionary

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